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ADOPTION/IMMIGRATION: Re D (Abduction: Habitual Residence) [2005] EWHC 518 (Fam)

Date:4 FEB 2005

(4 February 2005; Bracewell J; Family Division) [2005] 2 FLR 403

The part Italian mother established a home in Rome shortly after the American father's conviction for fraud, following which he was not permitted to leave the US. The mother returned to spend time in the US on many occasions, and became pregnant there, but returned to Rome to have the child. Shortly afterwards the mother and child spent some months with the father, but then went back to Rome. Abduction proceedings brought by the father in Italy were dismissed by reason of an issue as to paternity. The mother again spent some months with the child in the US, leaving for Italy shortly after the father applied for custody of the child. The father used a private detective to entrap the mother into coming to England, where fresh abduction proceedings were brought. The court was satisfied that the child had been habitually resident in Italy because of: (i) the father's lack of credibility; (ii) the mother's retention of an apartment in Rome throughout and the transfer of the mother's goods and property to the flat; (iii) the child's enrolment in an Italian pre-school day care; (iv) the purchase of return tickets for the trips to the US; (v) contemporaneous correspondence showing that the mother regarded such trips as mere visits; (vi) valid residence documentation in Italy for mother and child; (vii) the father's own statement in his custody application that the mother 'does not have strong ties with California'.