Family Law Week reports that the Family Court has granted a contested application by a mother to take her eight year old son with her to live in Angola.
The mother was born in Angola but as a child, moved with her family to London. It was there she met an Englishman and entered into a relationship. The couple went on to have a son in 2007 although they never married and their relationship unfortunately ended in 2012. The man was, however, named on the child’s birth certificate as the father and had parental responsibility for the child.
In 2013, the mother removed the child to Angola without the consent of either the father or the English courts. Subsequently, the father sought the assistance of Reunite, immediately obtained orders from the English High Court and reported the removal of the child to the police. The mother and her son remained in Angola from August 2013 until she returned to England alone, in February 2015. She was charged with child abduction following her return, and was on bail and awaiting trial for that offence when her application for permission to remove was heard by Mr. Justice Cobb. Pursuant to orders of the court, the child was returned to England in April, 2015.
The court heard that the woman’s immediate and extended family now lived predominantly in Angola. Evidence was also heard of alleged violence, harassment and general parental conflict within the couple’s relationship, as well as allegations that the father had used social media to put pressure on the mother and humiliate her among her peers.
After performing a child welfare analysis, Mr. Justice Cobb rejected the woman’s evidence about the level of indirect contact she had facilitated between the boy and his father after she removed him to Angola. However, he did take account of the beneficial aspects of the child’s life in Angola, including his educational development and his ties to extended members of his maternal family. Both parents agreed that their son had enjoyed and benefited from the direct overnight contact with his father that the court had ordered after his return to England.
Having considered the advantages and disadvantages of the boy returning to Angola rather than remaining in the UK, Mr. Justice Cobb granted the mother’s application to remove her son permanently to Angola. This permission however, was subject to two conditions which had to be satisfied before the boy was taken.
Firstly, the child’s mother had to demonstrate to both the Family Court and the father, that her own mother had indeed granted a charge over a family property in the UK which would enforceable by the boy’s London-based father, if she did not make the boy available for contact as stipulated in the Child Arrangements Order.
Secondly, the child’s mother would have to establish to both the Family Court and to the father that she had, through Angolan solicitors, formally applied to the Courts of Angola to review and confirm Mr. Justice Cobb’s order.