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C v B [2021] EWHC 1369 (Fam)

5th July 2021

Judgment: The Italian father sought an order for the return to Lanzarote of his two sons, aged 3 and 1, pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention. The application was opposed by the British mother, who had brought both children to England after removing the older boy from school. The parents had never been married. Attempts to settle proceedings through mediation with Reunite had been unsuccessful. The father had been out of work, and the mother maintained that she would have no means of supporting herself should she and the children return to Spain. She would not be immediately eligible for benefits, having been away for 90 days. Although he regarded the proposed arrangements for the mother and children in the event of their return to Lanzarote as unsatisfactory, Cobb J reached the conclusion that the mother had, on balance, failed in her efforts to demonstrate that her case fell within the limited exception afforded by Article 13(b). In the circumstances, he was obliged to make a return order in respect of the children. However, he decided that it would be wrong to require their return prior to the hearing within the domestic custody proceedings in the Spanish court, where a welfare decision would be made by reference to the children's best interests.