A High Court Judge has ordered two children be returned to another EU country after their mother took them to Ireland, claiming that they would be at risk if returned there. There father alleged the mother had abducted the children.
International child abduction case
The High Court’s Ms Justice Gearty has issued a decision in an international children abduction case. The children were taken from there home country in another EU country, which has not been named, to Ireland. The parties have family links to Ireland. Last year, the mother took the children to Ireland for a holiday and never returned to the home country.
The father brought his case to Irish High Court under the Hague International Convention on Child Abduction rules. He stated that he never gave his consent to the children being moved to Ireland and he wished for them to be returned to his care. He had joint custody of the children in the home state.
Grounds of defence
There are very limited grounds under which one can defend an international child abduction case. The mother claimed that the children would be at grave risk of self-harm if returned to their home country. Further, the children had stated that they wished to remain in Ireland.
Whilst the Court is required to take account of the views and wishes of the children, it was not determinative. The High Court determined that the children had been wrongfully removed and ordered that they be returned home.
High Court decision
In its decision, the Court stated that the children would have access to their professional support network at home. They would have continuing professional supports available to them. The assessor who had spoken to the children in Ireland noted that they were unhappy at school and there was some reference to self-harm. This was not sufficient evidence to ground a determination that there was grave risk to the children. The children’s best interests were served by returning home, according to the Court.
Further, it was noted that there had been an application in 2019 by the mother to relocate with the children to Ireland. This had been refused by the courts of the other state. In a recent custody dispute, the mother never raised the issue of moving to Ireland. Instead, deciding to take action without a legal right. An order for their immediate return was made.
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