(Family Division, Mostyn J, 21 February 2013)
When the Australian mother and British father faced marriage difficulties the mother, without warning the father, took the two children, aged 2 and 3, and flew to Australia. Following Hague Convention proceedings in Australia the children were returned to this jurisdiction and were cared for under a shared care arrangement. The mother now sought permission to relocate.
The Cafcass officer was unable to provide a clear recommendation to the court and was unable to say where the balance lay. The parents agreed that whatever the outcome they would provide a shared care arrangement and the unsuccessful parent would relocate in order to do so.
In the circumstances the mother's capacity to meet the children's needs would be diminished if she were required to stay in the UK partly due to the complex immigration requirements and also due to her potential bankruptcy. Applying the guidance, the impact on the mother, if a decision favourable to the father were made, would bear far more heavily on her than the father in the alternative situation.