(Family Division; Pauffley J; 2 February 2012)
The Australian mother and Belgian father married in Australia where their 6-year-old daughter was born. They relocated to Belgium. When they separated the mother took the child to England and brought proceedings seeking permission to relocate with the child to Australia. The father wrongfully retained the child during contact in Belgium for 11 months. The father sought a shared residence order. Consequences of wrongful retention had been devastating to mother and child, mother had always been primary carer. Residence with the father would be contrary to child's welfare. The mother was isolated, lacking in support in England and feared child would be abducted again. The mother claimed she would bring the child to England for contact once a year and allow extended Skype contact. There was a real potential for deterioration in the mother's mental well-being if application refused. The father had become focused on own needs rather than those of his daughter. The guardian was unable to make definitive recommendation, child undecided about move to Australia. Mother granted residence and permission to relocate to Australia as there was no doubt that that was in the child's best interests.