Father must return children to the United States


A court has ruled that a father must allow his children to return to the United States so they can maintain contact with their mother.

The children had an American mother and a British father. The couple had lived and got married in the United States. They had two children while they were together.

Following the break-up of the marriage, the children continued living with the father but were visited often by the mother.

Father charged with assault

The father was then charged with assault on a former girlfriend. He also found himself in severe financial difficulties. To avoid facing the charge and to be closer to his family because of his financial problems, he decided to return to the UK taking the children with him.

He did not tell the mother he was leaving or give her a forwarding address.

As soon as the mother discovered what had happened, she began legal proceedings under the Hague Convention to have the children returned to the United States.

The father claimed that she had consented to the removal of the children. He also submitted that the risk of imprisonment and his financial difficulties could expose the children to psychological harm if he were forced to return to the US.

Children had to be returned

The court, however, granted the mother’s application to have the children returned. It held that the father had failed to show that she had consented to the removal of the children. In fact, the evidence suggested the opposite.

As far as the assault charge was concerned, the court was not convinced that the father would be arrested or that if he was, the children would be not be sufficiently cared for by the mother and the US welfare system.

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In any case, the father had to accept responsibility for his situation. If the court accepted his argument, it would send the wrong signal to would be abductors. It would be saying that they could improve their case by breaking the law.