(Family Division, Sir James Munby, the President of the Family Division, 1 December 2016)
Adoption – Indian adoption – Immigration – Domicile – Whether the Indian adoption should be recognised
A declaration was made recognising the Indian adoption and an adoption order was granted under the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
The woman, who was born in India, adopted her sister’s child when she was 8 months old in 1999, when her sister and her husband were struggling to care for her. The adoption was formalised in a customary ceremony in India in 2011. Just prior to the ceremony the woman’s husband was killed in a car crash.
When the woman applied for entry clearance for the child for the purposes of settlement she was refused. Her application was eventually allowed on the basis of the child being a student.
The woman applied to the Family Court under the inherent jurisdiction for a declaration of recognition of the Indian adoption and also an adoption order pursuant to the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
It was clear that the child was legally adopted in accordance with the requirements of the relevant foreign law and that the adoption had the same essential characteristics as an English adoption. A crucial issue was the domicile of the woman in 2011 and on the basis of all the evidence the court was satisfied that she was domiciled in India at that time. She was, therefore, entitled to the declaration sought.
In respect of the application for an adoption order the evidence before the court pointed to an adoption order being in the child’s best interests throughout her life. An adoption order was necessary to safeguard now and in the future the legal and factual relationship between the woman and child.