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Brussels II Revised - Enforcement - Conflicting opinions of English and Belgian court as to jurisdiction and whether a return order should be made - Lis pendens - Whether the English court was already seised of the matter when the Belgian court made a return order
22 March 2012
The father sought enforcement of an order of the Belgian court in relation to his 8-year-old child which granted him custody and ordered the child's return to the UK to live with him. The application was opposed by the local authority, the mother and the child, via her children's guardian. Both parents were UK nationals but during the latter part of the marriage the family lived in Belgium. When the parents separated the mother took the child to live in England but it was only 7 months later that the father asserted that her removal had been wrongful and brought proceedings in England under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspect of International Child Abduction 1980. In those proceedings the judge rejected the mother's defences of the child's objection and grave risk of harm under Art 13(b). The judge instead focused on the issue of consent and refused to order summary return, declaring that the child was now habitually resident in England and Wales. The father then issued an application under the Children Act 1989 for a residence order claiming he had concerns for the child's welfare while she remained in the care of her mother. The local authority prepared a welfare report and subsequently issued an application for a care or supervision order and for an interim care order. The child moved to live with her maternal grandparents and an interim care order was granted in favour of the local authority.
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