A father has lost his appeal against a court ruling that he cannot take his sons to live outside of the UK even though they want to go with him.
The case involved a British mother and her former husband who was Iranian but had British citizenship. They had two sons, aged 16 and 14.
After the couple’s marriage failed, the sons lived with the mother at first but then moved to live with the father. He then moved to Iran and wanted to take the boys with him.
The judge had reports on the family’s situation from an officer with CAFCASS, the organisation that looks after the interests of children in cases like this. The officer said that both boys had spent time in Iran with their father and had told her that they would like to live there, but they had also identified their relationship with their mother as important to them.
The officer believed there was a risk that the move to Iran would have a detrimental effect on their relationship with their mother, on their education, and on their social relationships. It could also cause them further emotional harm in addition to that already suffered by the fractured relationship between the parents.
The judge considered the father to be “a dominant, controlling, influential man” who had persuaded his sons either deliberately or through sheer force of personality to say they wanted to go to Iran. She refused him permission to take the boys with him as it would not be in their best interests.
The Court of Appeal has upheld that decision. It held that, even with older children, their wishes and feelings were only ever one of the factors to be considered in arriving at what was in their best interests.
It was apparent from the judgment that there were very good reasons not to accede to the boys’ wishes. The judge was entitled to take the view that, although they knew what Iran was like as they had spent time there, they did not really understand what a permanent move to Iran would entail.
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