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(Court of Appeal, Thorpe, Kitchin LJJ, Sir David Keene 23 July 2013)
While the family were living in Norway an incident of domestic violence took place perpetrated by the father against the mother which was witnessed by the children. The parents thereafter separated and the mother gave birth to a third child before taking all three children to England. The father initiated proceedings under the Hague Convention for a return order, to which the children objected, which was refused. The father appealed.
There could be no criticism of the judgment which included a review of the law on the subject of children's objections and was applied to the facts. The judge concluded it was an exceptional case, in that the one incident had affected the relationship not only between the parents but also between the father and the children. That, coupled with the children's emotional response, including that of the oldest child, who had a sense of himself as his mother's protector and of how exposed they would be if they were returned to Norway, whatever protective measures there were there, had clearly profoundly affected the Cafcass officer's view. It had plainly been open to the judge to treat the one incident as the foundation for her conclusion.