In the case of Re Z (a child) (residence) , The Family Division allowed a mother’s application to return to her native Australia with her child.
The mother was an Australian and the father from Belgium. The child was born in 2005. In 2008 the mother issued divorce proceedings in London. Both parents applied for residence orders. In 2010 the mother applied to relocate with the child to Australia where her family and friends were.
In the August of that year the child travelled to Belgium to spend a three week holiday with her father. The father failed to return the child and obtained a residence order in a Belgium court. After various orders made in English and Belgium courts the residence order was set aside. However the father then went into hiding with the child. After the intervention of the police the child was returned to the mother.
The mother argued that she felt isolated in England and would be better supported in her home country of Australia. The father was opposed to the move.
The court ruled that the child’s welfare needs would be best met by a residence order in favour of the mother. The notion that the child should be placed with the father in Belgium was untenable as it would unsettle, destabilise and disorientate the child. The father had already done this once which was harmful enough; a repeat would therefore be contrary to her welfare needs.
The court also ruled that the mother was not motivated by selfish reasons. She did not seek to end the relationship between the child and father. Her plan for relocation with the child was a realistic one. The mother was already in a fragile state and the refusal of her application was likely to impact her mental well-being.