In Focus – Changes To Child Maintenance

High Court rules children to remain in the UK despite emotional harm already inflicted

shoesThree children brought to the UK from Pakistan by their father should remain in Britain even though he and his family subjected the trio to significant emotional harm, the High Court has ruled.

In 2014 EWHC 3163 (Fam) the court heard that a boy aged eight and two girls aged seven and five were the children of a British-Pakistani father and a Pakistani mother. The couple originally lived in Pakistan although the father split his time between the UK and Pakistan. In 2011 the father brought the three to England with his sister their aunt and only the boy returned to Pakistan with the father.

The children’s mother told the court she was tricked into signing an authority letter allowing the children to be taken to England without her. She told the court she does not understand or read English and believed she was signing a form permitting her son to go to school in Lahore.

She launched proceedings in Pakistan to keep the son there with her – but the father whisked the boy back to England and ignored the proceedings.

The father then divorced the mother using a traditional Islamic ‘talaq’ divorce. He told the court the mother left the family home from choice – but the mother said she was thrown out by her husband’s family.

A fourth child was born a few months after the divorce and although her estranged husband disputed paternity, DNA tests proved he was the father.

In 2013 the father remarried. After a prolonged immigration battle, the mother finally was allowed to come to the UK to get in touch with her children earlier this year. She immediately applied to the court for the return of the children to Pakistan. The father initially said he would agree to this but then changed his mind.

Ruling that the children should stay with their father, despite his behaviour, Mrs Justice Palfrey said the relationship between the children and the mother had been seriously damaged and the children had been significantly emotionally harmed by the father and his family.

But she refused to intervene because in her view the children had become settled in the UK and all wanted to stay in Britain. “I do not consider it would be in the children’s best interest to move them. They are accustomed to life with their father,” she said in her judgement.



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