Case comes as stark warning to parents to take early expert legal advice if they have any concerns about potential abduction of their child/children
The 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction ordinarily secures return of children who have been abducted internationally. However GCMR, Petitioner  CSOH 66, recently decided upon by Lady Wise, demonstrates when the Court can refuse to make a return order.
Here the child was 10 years old. She had been abducted from Portugal by her mother when she was 4 and had lived in Hamilton since. The father had been unable to locate his daughter until 2016 when he raised proceedings for her return. The mother successfully defended the action under Article 12 of the Convention as the child was settled in her new environment and under Article 13 as the child objected to return. As abduction cases are often raised shortly after the abduction, settlement is rarely a successful defence. However here it was made out as the child had lived longer in Scotland than Portugal and had engaged openly in life in Hamilton. Lady Wise also accepted the child was mature enough to express a view. These two factors gave the Judge discretion to order return and she refused. She held that the child had had all her formal education in Scotland, had a number of hobbies and friends, and would experience a number of educational hurdles if she returned to Portugal. Although this set of circumstances is comparatively rare, the case does highlight that if parents have any concerns about potential abduction that they take early expert legal advice as the consequences can be devastating.
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