A father who wrongfully retained his children who were visiting from Australia for the Christmas holidays was delighted when his appeal against having the children returned to their mother was granted, as reported by Family Law Week.
The children, now aged 9-13, spent last Christmas with their father in the UK, whilst their mother stayed in Australia. However, when the time came to return them, he chose instead to keep them with him, although presumably he knew that he would be breaching the terms of his custody agreement. The case naturally progressed to court, but the presiding judge felt that although the children had expressed a preference to remain with their father, they had no real cause to object to being sent back to their mother in Australia.
In the subsequent appeal, the trial judge, disagreed with the previous over-analysis of the word “object”, which had presumably altered perception of the children’s response, to make it sound as though they had no issue regarding being sent back home – a conclusion to which she did not necessarily agree.
In addition, the judge felt that should the children be returned to live with their mother (who had lost her home), this might well be a situation which would turn out to be wholly unsuitable and so ultimately, become a temporary measure.
Indeed, since the children had been wrongfully retained and the father had ceased making the mortgage payments on the house in Australia, circumstances in that part of the world had changed immeasurably.
Therefore, should the matter be taken up the Australian court, the judge concluded, it would be difficult for the children to return to what they would consider to be a normal way of life in the meantime.
It was on this basis that the father, although admittedly guilty of wrongfully retaining his children, was granted his appeal.