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Ciccone v Ritchie (No 1) [2016] EWHC 608 (Fam)

Date:21 MAR 2016
Law Reporter
(Family Division, MacDonald J, 3 February 2016)

Abduction – Hague Convention – Party status of the 15-year-old

The 15-year-old was joined as a party to the Hague Convention proceedings.

When the parents, Madonna and Guy Ritchie, divorced a consent order provided for the mother to permanently remove the children to New York to live for generous contact with the father. That order was registered with the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

In 2015 following contact with the father, the 15-year-old refused to return to New York and he had remained since then in the UK. The parents engaged in mediation in an attempt to resolve the issues and their son was fully involved in the process. However when an agreement could not be reached the mother issued proceedings under the Hague Convention for a return order. Proceedings were also initiated in New York where the son would be represented. He now applied for party status in the English proceedings. His application was supported by the father and opposed by the mother.

The judge found hat it was in the son's best interests to be joined as party to the proceedings. At 15 years and 4 months he was close to the upper age limit placed on the jurisdiction under the Hague Convention. His solicitor was satisfied that he was a mature, articulate and reflective young man who was fully competent to instruct a solicitor. Furthermore he was the instigator of the circumstances surrounding his retention in the UK and he was very clear in his opposition to a return to the USA at this time.

He was represented in the proceedings in New York and had taken an active role in the pre-proceedings mediation. Therefore, to now confine him to a passive role in these proceedings would not be in his best interests and would be detrimental to him. It would also be far easier for him to recognise the legitimacy of the court's decision if he had been able to fully participate in the process.

Neutral Citation Number: [2016] EWHC 608 (Fam)
Case No: FD15P00621


Royal Courts of Justice

Date: 03/02/2016


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Madonna Louise Ciccone

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Guy Stuart Ritchie
First Respondent
Rocco John Ritchie
Second Respondent

(No 1)

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Mr David Williams QC and Miss Jaqueline Renton (instructed by Payne Hicks Beach) for the Applicant
Mr Michael Gration (instructed by Stewarts Law) for the First Respondent
Mr Henry Setright QC and Edward Devereux (instructed by Goodman Ray) for the Second Respondent

Hearing dates: 21 December 2015

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Ciccone v Ritchie (No 1) 2016 EWHC 608 (Fam)

Approved Judgment