Family Law Week reported recently that the Court of Appeal has refused an appeal made by a father, against an order permitting the mother of his five year old daughter to relocate her to Sweden.
The child’s mother moved from Sweden to London in 2007 and began a relationship with a British man. The child was born to the couple in 2010, but their relationship subsequently deteriorated.
In 2011, the child’s mother wrongfully retained the child in Sweden following a holiday. The father made an application to the English courts for the return of the child, and the child and her mother subsequently returned to the UK.
The mother applied to the court for permission to relocate the child to Sweden but the father opposed the application. When the case was heard before Mr. Justice Mostyn, the court was told that each of the parents had made various allegations against the other. The relevant local authority had become involved in November 2013, as a result of which the child became the subject of a child protection plan until July 2014.
The child’s mother told the court that she felt unhappy and isolated in the UK. She said that she would be able to offer the child a better way of life in Sweden, where her family would be able to provide support. A letter from a psychologist who had treated her also stated that remaining in London would damage her emotional well-being and might affect the quality of her parenting.
The father’s opposition to the application was supported by a social worker and an officer of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (‘CAFCASS’), both of whom told the court that they were concerned about the mother’s lifestyle.
Mr. Justice Mostyn granted the mother’s application to remove the child to Sweden. In his view, the child’s father had not been able to distinguish his own needs from those of the child. He foresaw that the father would make repeated complaints and allegations if the child remained in the UK and considered that the interests of the child would best be served if she were to live with her mother in a place where her mother would be happy and fulfilled.
The father took his case to the Court Of Appeal, where it was heard before Lady Justice Black, President of the Family Court, and Lord Justice Briggs.
In his appeal, the father contended that Mr Justice Mostyn had erred in his assessment of the father and of the availability of family support for the mother in Sweden, had failed to give sufficient weight to the views of the CAFCASS officer and social worker and had also failed to take account of the impact that relocation would have on the child’s relationship with her father.
The appellate judges observed that, unlike them, Mr. Justice Mostyn had had the benefit of hearing evidence. Having considered Mr. Justice Mostyn’s judgement and the legal submissions made to them by counsel for both parents, the appellate judges concluded that the child’s father had failed to establish that Mr. Justice Mostyn “was wrong in the approach that he took to the material before him or in the decisions that he made.” The father’s appeal was therefore dismissed.
If you have a divorce or custody query relating to Sweden, please read more on our Sweden family law page.