RV v VT, Court of Appeal - Family Division, October 19, 2018, [2018] EWHC 2808 (Fam)

Resolution Date:October 19, 2018
Issuing Organization:Family Division
Actores:RV v VT
 
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Neutral Citation Number: [2018] EWHC 2808 (Fam)

Case No: FD18P00577

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

FAMILY DIVISION

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London, WC2A 2LL

Date: 19/10/2018

Before :

HHJ JESSICA PEMBERTON (SITTING AS A JUDGE OF THE HIGH COURT)

Between :

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Clare Renton (instructed by Birmingham Legal Ltd) for the Applicant Father

The Respondent Mother appeared in person

Hearing dates: 18th & 19th October 2018

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This judgment was delivered in private. The judge has given leave for this version of the judgment to be published on condition that (irrespective of what is contained in the judgment) in any published version of the judgment the anonymity of the children and members of their family must be strictly preserved. All persons, including representatives of the media, must ensure that this condition is strictly complied with. Failure to do so will be a contempt of court.

HHJ JESSICA PEMBERTON:

This is an application by the applicant father for the summary return of the child, A (dob [a date in] 2014) (A boy), to Latvia. It is opposed by the mother.

The mother denies that the child was habitually resident in Latvia on 4 July 2018, the date of removal and in the alternative, the mother relies on article 13 (b), i) acquiescence (by conduct); ii) grave harm and iii) intolerable situation and invites me to exercise my discretion and refuse to return A to Lativa.

The applicant is RV, whom I shall refer to as the father throughout this judgment. He was born in Latvia on [a date in] 1991 and is now 27 years old.

The Respondent is VT. She is of Russian origin, but lived in Latvia from birth/an early age. She was born on [a date in] 1994 and is now 24 years old.

The father's application was issued in August 2018 and came before Mrs Justice Parker on 23 August 2018 who made an ex parte order to locate the mother and child. At a further hearing on 19 September, directions were given for the filing of further evidence and this hearing was listed.

Both parents had the assistance of an interpreter at this hearing. Whilst the mother was not legally represented at this hearing, she was legally represented and advised on the preparation of her statement and the statement of defence filed on her behalf was prepared by Charles Strachan solicitors. The mother is clearly an articulate and intelligent young woman and I am satisfied she has been able to fully follow participate in the proceedings.

I have read all of the papers filed in the trial bundle and the position statement and case law filed on behalf of the applicant father.

I have heard oral evidence from both parents.

Background and evidence

There is a large measure of agreement between the parents as to the background and the arrangements for A prior to his return to Latvia. Indeed, there is no real dispute about the arrangements for A whilst he was in Latvia. The real question is whether these arrangements led to A gaining a new habitual residence.

The parents met in 2009 whilst living in the same city in Latvia and I understand their relationship commenced shortly after meeting.

A was born in Latvia in 2014. At that time the parents were living with the maternal grandparents. The parents moved in October of that year to stay with the mother's brother who lived in England. The mother says this was a decision to permanently move but it is the father's case that there was no agreement to live in the UK permanently and no discussion about such a plan. Nevertheless, the family clearly settled in England and remained in this country for nearly 4 years.

A was registered with a doctor and in due course, a dentist and with a nursery in England. The father obtained employment and the mother stayed at home for the first year to care for A.

It is common ground between the parents that the relationship was unstable, the mother alleges that the father cheated on her on a number of occasions, whilst the father alleges that the mother would go out socialising on a frequent basis.

The parents and A were living in a household with the maternal uncle and maternal uncle's partner and at some stage the maternal grandmother joined them. The couple decided to get their own home in early 2016. By this time the mother was also in paid employment and I understand that the parents made arrangements for them to share the care of A.

Sadly, the change of accommodation did not lead to greater stability in the relationship and the parents separated for a final time in September 2016.

The parents lived separately with A spending time with both of his parents. The mother complains that the father's interest in spending time with A decreased and he began spending less regular time with his son. The father states that it was the maternal grandmother who was providing the majority of care for A (until sometime in the summer of 2017), whilst the mother was working in a bar and the father alleges, continuing with her ``partying lifestyle''. The father was working and states he was supporting A by buying him clothes and other necessary items.

There is a dispute as to how much care the father was providing for A during this period, but on both parents' accounts, A was spending significant periods of time with each of them.

It is the mother's case that separation of the parents led to her struggling financially and she alleges that there was no financial support from father. These financial difficulties, she says, led to her proposing that A go...

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