According to Family Law Week, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a High Court judge erred in ruling that he had jurisdiction to order the return of a child to Morocco.
The child, now aged eight, was born in the UK to Moroccan nationals in 2007. He and his parents left the UK and returned to Morocco in 2011 following a spell in Saudi Arabia. After their return to Morocco, the child’s parents separated and thereafter divorced.
The Moroccan court had ordered at the time of the divorce that the child live with his mother and that his father have weekly and holiday contact with him.
In September, 2013, the child’s mother removed him to the UK without permission. The father initiated proceedings in Morocco, in which he applied for residential custody of the child. The Moroccan court refused this application.
In March, 2014, the father began legal proceedings in England for the return of the child to Morocco, and the case was heard before Mr. Justice Wood in October, 2014. Although he decided that the child had been habitually resident in Morocco in September 2013, he did not make any finding about the child’s habitual residence as at the time of the hearing. In deciding the case in favour of the father, the judge considered that he had jurisdiction to make a return order and that the best interests of the child required him to do so.
The mother subsequently took her case to the Court of Appeal, and was heard before Lord Justice Moore-Bick, Lady Justice Black and Lady Justice Gloster.
The appellate judges considered that Mr. Justice Wood had erred in thinking that he had jurisdiction to hear the father’s application for a return order and therefore allowed the mother’s appeal, setting aside the decision of the High Court judge and dismissing the father’s application.
If you have a divorce or custody query relating to Morocco, please read more on our Morocco family law page.