A mother has been told by the High Court that she cannot take her two-year-old daughter to live with her in Canada.
The case involved a couple who began their relationship in England in 2013. The father was British and the mother had dual British/Canadian nationality.
They never married and it appeared that they had a volatile and unstable relationship. The father said they had separated and reconciled many times.
Their daughter was born in April 2014. In September 2015, the couple separated again. A month later, they decided to see if they could make their relationship work by moving to Canada as they were struggling to make ends meet in England.
They travelled to Saskatchewan, where the mother’s father and stepmother, and her grandparents, lived. The couple entered the country on six-month holiday visas.
In April 2016, the father returned to England with the daughter without the mother’s agreement.
The mother then sought an order to have her daughter returned to her under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980. She claimed the child had acquired habitual residence in Canada after the move in October 2015.
The court refused the application and ordered that the daughter should remain with her father in England. It held that there was no evidence that the girl had integrated socially or otherwise in Canada.
There was no nursery, no playgroup, indeed no evidence of any life at all. Both parents had moved with her to Canada, but the mother was physically absent from her life there for extended periods, and when she was with her she appeared to have been mentally and emotionally somewhat unavailable to her.
The girl was in Canada for six months, but the duration of the visit was less important than its quality.
She had established roots in England, having been born and raised here. Her paternal relatives and maternal grandmother continued to live here.
Her enduring link with this country was preserved after October 2015 by a pre-trip parental agreement that if things did not work out in Canada, the father would return with her to England.
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