A High Court has ruled that three children taken to live in England by their mother must be returned to Germany where their father resided, after the father applied to the court for their return.
The mother had accused the father of physical and psychological abuse, and said she had taken the three children now 13, 11 and 8, to live in the jurisdiction of England and wales to avoid exposing them to harm. The mother and the children’s residence was unknown to the father until last December when he discovered their whereabouts.
Robert Peel QC, who was sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Family Court, took the view that the allegations were no longer ‘live’, that the mother had been able to coexist with the father for some years after the initial allegations were raised and that her care of the children had not been affected.
While the children all said they did not wish to go back to Germany, the Cafcass officer speaking to the children took the view that their wishes had been coloured in part by the mother’s view of the father and that other matters took priority over their feelings. The Cafcass officer also took the view that the children’s wishes could not be determinative because they were too young.
The court ordered a mandatory return of the children to Germany, and also directed that protective measures needed to be put in place in relation to the practical consequences of their return to Germany.