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Mother not allowed to take child to country outside Hague Convention

The Family Court has refused a mother’s application to take her daughter on holiday to Pakistan because the Hague Convention is not yet in operation there.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is designed to protect children taken by one of their parents to live in a different country without the other parent’s agreement. It is often used to secure the return of the abducted child.

Pakistan is a signatory to the Convention, but the UK has not yet recognised this, so its provisions do not apply between the two countries.

This was an important issue in a recent case in which a mother wanted to take her five-year-old daughter to visit family in Pakistan.

The father opposed the application.

In assessing the case, Mr Justice Peel noted some of the key points when assessing applications to take a child temporarily to a country where the Hague Convention does not yet apply as far as the UK is concerned.

These include whether the trip would be in the best interests of the child and, bearing in mind the risk of abduction, do the advantages to the child of visiting the country outweigh the risks to her welfare.

With these concerns being paramount, Mr Justice Peel refused the mother’s application.

Giving judgment and referring to the child as Z, the father as F and the mother as M, he said: “Weighing up the arguments, I have concluded that M’s application to remove Z to Pakistan over Christmas should be refused.

“Although I assess the likelihood of disobedience to the English court order as relatively low, the detriment to Z of breach would be very high.

“The contact arrangements are newish and need more time to settle down. A period of stability (particularly after so much litigation) might build up a greater degree of trust between the parents.

“I also take the view that the benefit of a trip to Pakistan during this holiday period is outweighed by the benefit to [the child] of spending a week over Christmas with F, which she would miss if she went away.”

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Mother not allowed to take child to country outside Hague Convention
T and T
Family Court
December 2023
Mr Justice Peel