There is a presumption within the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction that the best interests of a child are served if any decisions in relation to their care and well being are taken by the appropriate court in the country where they were habitually resident prior to any wrongful removal or retention. Thus ensuring the prompt return of any child or children to that country so relevant decisions can be taken there. This means that a decision has to be made as to the child’s habitual residence at the outset. Habitual residence is described as “ordinary residence.” In a 2010 case the court described the habitual residence of a child as in “the place which reflects some degree of integration by the child in a social and family environment.” Practically the court will look at the duration, conditions, history and reasons for the stay including school attendance, the language spoken and familiar and social relationships of the child.
If one parent unilaterally changes the habitual residence of the child then that child should normally be returned immediately.
Here at Munro & Noble we have an experienced team within our Dispute Resolution Team who will help and guide you through this difficult time.