Two boys who were abducted by their father and taken to Russia have been returned to the UK.
This is the first time that the Russian courts have cooperated with the UK over an issue of child abduction and is the first case to successfully use the 1996 Hague Convention on parental responsibility between England and Russia which was ratified in June 2013.
In December 2012 the two boys, now aged five and seven, were taken on holiday over Christmas to Russia by their father Ilya Neustadt shortly after his marriage to their mother, Rachael Neustadt, broke down. Once in Russia he refused to return the children to their mother in the UK.
Rachael Neustadt, a former teacher from Hendon, London, was left at home with the couple’s youngest son, two-year-old Meir. She then started her long legal battle to get her other two boys back.
After nearly a year, in November 2013, Rachel Neustadt won her case in The High Court in London, which issued an order that their father return the children to the UK. However, she still needed the Russian authorities to help her to uphold the court order to return the boys.
Later, her case became a landmark in international child abduction law when she secured a ruling in her favour from the Moscow City Appeal Court. The court declared that the children had been kept in Russia illegally and should be returned to the UK as soon as possible.
However, their father defied the court rulings made in both the UK and Russia and went into hiding with the children.
Eventually, the children were found in an apartment in Moscow with their paternal grandmother Irina Mogilevsky and handed over to Ms Neustadt with the consent of the Russian courts.
Rachael Neustadt brought her boys, five-year-old Jonathan and seven-year-old Daniel, home to Hendon at the end of June this year.
Details of the case were given to Family Division judge Mr Justice Peter Jackson at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London last week.
Speaking outside court, former teacher Ms Neustadt said she was delighted to have her three boys together again.
“I am thrilled and relieved that the boys are back home,” she said. “We have so much to catch up on and so many hugs to make up for.
“I am infinitely grateful to everyone for their help and prayers, and especially to my legal teams in the UK and Russia as well as the Russian, UK and USA authorities for their assistance in the children’s recovery and return.
“I hope there can be a speedy conclusion to the litigation so that the children can heal and resume their settled lives with mummy and their little brother as safely and securely as possible.”