(Family Division, Theis J, 25 January 2013)
The Spanish father was granted a return order in relation to his five children who he claimed had been unlawfully retained in the UK by their mother and he now sought enforcement of the order.
When the mother failed to return the children the social services department and the police were called upon to assist and then a collection order was made but when the police attended the mother's address they discovered that the mother and children had absconded. When they were located arrangements were made for the children to return to Spain but two children refused to travel and remained in the UK.
The appeal by the mother and two children was dismissed and in preparation of enforcement proceedings the father travelled to the UK to have contact with the children. However, after an explosive incident during one contact the children refused to continue to see their father. The local authority was now recommending that those two children should remain in the care of their mother.
The judge concluded that no further order should be made. None of the intensive steps taken to ensure enforcement had worked so far. With very little prospect of an enforcement order working, committal proceedings would be the next step which would only further polarise the already fractured family. The family now needed time in order for relationships to be restored and for reflection of the parties' positions.