Re A v B [2015] EWHC 1562 (Fam)

Philcox Gray represented a father of a child on a successful Defence of an application under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 or Article 11 of Counsel Regulation (EC) 2201/2003.

Pauffley LJ gave guidance on what she had described as “an extraordinary dispute”. The mother is a West African national, living in Germany, the father an English national living in London with his wife who is a West African national. Due to significant medical difficulties, the father and wife were unable to conceive a child of their own. The child was conceived in February 2013. The arrangements for this and where the child would live after birth, having lived for four months in Germany, together with the identity of the main carer for the four months following birth, were fiercely contested.

Both parents had rights of custody, the mother under the German Civil Code; the father as a result of the child’s registration of birth in November 2013. The facts between the parties were significantly disputed. The mother’s case was that she would naturally conceive a child with a father who he would see regularly. The father’s case was that there had been an agreement that the child would live with him and his wife in England, seeing the mother during holidays.

Pauffley LJ considered the principles set out by Lady Hale in the Supreme Court in A v A & Another (Children: Habitual Residence) [2013] UKSC 60 and in Mercredi v. Chaffe (Case C-497/10) [2012] Fam 22.

Pauffley LJ determined that the wife did not relinquish her habitual residence when staying in Germany for 4 months to care for the child after birth because habitual residence may exist in a State which is the home of the family unit of which the infant is part, and where he would be but for force majeure.”

The integration was therefore ruled as being with the father and his wife and the intervention of the Convention for swift return could not be applied.

To read the full judgment click here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2015/1562.html

An interesting article regarding the case can be found on the The Times Online website (subscription required to read in full): http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/law/article4467869.ece and also on the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3120189/Husband-got-wife-s-approval-child-African-woman-usual-way-2-000-wins-right-bring-boy-UK.html

At the hearing, the father was represented by Andrew Norton and Marlene Cayoun of 1 Garden Court, instructed by Natasha Slabas, Solicitor at Philcox Gray.

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