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Girl can remain in UK with mother despite order from French Court

To enforce an order from a French court to relocate a five-year-old girl from her mother in England to live with her father in France would be draconian, the English Court of Appeal has ruled. 

The girl was born in France in 2016; two years later her mother and father separated. 

In February 2019, the French High Court gave the mother permission to take her daughter and relocate to England, whilst making regular visits to the father in France.  

However, in October 2020 that decision was overturned by the French Court of Appeal, which ordered that the girl should live with her father in France.

The mother had since settled with her daughter in England. She unsuccessfully appealed the decision in both the French and English High Courts. 

However, the decision was overturned by the English Court of Appeal. 

It said that enforcement of the order would be draconian. 

The girl would have to move from her home with her mother, where she had been living since February 2019, to live with her father in a place of which she would have little or no recollection. 

More than 12 months had passed since the order had been made in France.  

The girl’s circumstances had significantly changed from what they were in October 2019 given her further integration in England. 

There were also developments in the father’s circumstances in France. 

The evidence available to the court now would be significantly different to that which was available to the French Court of Appeal. 

Whether a different decision would be made regarding the daughter’s home was unclear, but the English court was within its jurisdiction and justified in undertaking a new welfare assessment to determine what order was now in the girl’s best interests. 

Case citations: [2022] EWCA Civ 904 [2022] 6 WLUK 418  Judge Moylan LJ; Nugee LJ; Birss LJ 

If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 02080040065, by email at hello@southgate.co.uk or using the form below.

The contents of this article are general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.

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