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R v B (Stranded: Habitual Residence: Forum Conveniens) [2020] EWHC 1041 (Fam)

22nd September 2021

Judgment: An application was brought for return orders from Saudi Arabia under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court. The central factual issue was the question of abandonment, and the alleged stranding of the mother and the children in Saudi Arabia. The mother's case was that she wished to return to the United Kingdom but was unable to, and that the father had engineered this situation. The father said that the mother had settled in Saudi Arabia. She also made allegations of domestic abuse, which HHJ Mark Rogers found to be credible. He also found that the husband's departure from Saudi Arabia, taking the family's passports, was a response to the family breakdown and his desire to isolate his wife and weaken her position. She was stranded in Saudi Arabia, against her will, in circumstances brought about in part, if not in whole, by the father. The children were not in full-time education, and had no access to proper healthcare, and the judge came to the conclusion that they were not habitually resident in Saudi Arabia. The children were British and he was satisfied they required the court's protection and that subsequent matters should be dealt with here. Orders would be required to secure the return of the children to the United Kingdom.