In the last decade, courts around the world have seen a proliferation of parental child abduction cases. Perhaps this can be accounted for by our increasingly global community, or is it a sign that families are increasingly disintegrating and some parents are willing to take draconian steps to ensure they get what they want… in abduction cases, it is the children, of course.
Today a case will be heard by the British Supreme Court involving an arranged marriage, four children, and a battle between a mother in England and her husband in Pakistan.
It began when a young woman entered into an arranged marriage with her cousin and moved to the United Kingdom. The couple had three children, all born in England.
Unfortunately, the marriage began to crack and eventually the father left his wife and children in England and returned on his own to Pakistan.
Some time later, mother and the children arrived in Pakistan for a vacation, but upon her arrival, her extended family began to pressure her to reconcile with her husband. She agree to do so on the basis that her husband return to England to resume their marriage.
It appears she fell into her husband’s trap, because before she knew it, the children were enrolled in school in Pakistan and her husband had hidden their passports. During this time she gave birth to a fourth child.
She finally escaped the clutches of her husband and his family and returned to England, but without her children. She applied in a British court for without notice court orders that the children be returned to England, orders that were later affirmed when challenged by her spouse.
However, her husband appealed the orders to the Court of Appeal. The court upheld the order that her three eldest children be returned to the U.K. but were split on whether the youngest child, born in Pakistan, should be returned as well.
Lord Justice Patten opined that a child born in Pakistan could not be said to be a habitual resident of England and therefore he could not make an order that included the youngest child.
Lord Justice Thorpe disagreed stating that the child took his mother’s habitual residence at birth as “the defeat of abduction must be supported” and that this case fell “narrowly on the right side of an important boundary.”
Britain’s highest court must now decide whether an infant is presumed to acquire the habitual residence of his or her custodial parent, despite being born in a foreign jurisdiction.
Yet, this may not be the end of the case, for a court order to some parents is just a piece of paper they are quite willing to defy.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang