April 8, 2021
If you are separating from your partner, spouse, or civil partner and you have children together, it is very important to consider the arrangements for contact with your children as soon as possible after your separation.
If you are unable to reach an agreement having tried a method of alternative dispute resolution such as mediation and have no option but to apply for the court to make decisions about contact or relocating your child if one party has moved abroad, the court will act in your child’s best interests.
In the case of AL v SM  EWHC 2479 (Fam), the parties lived in Slovakia and had a four-year-old daughter, NG. Following the parties’ separation, the father last had contact with NG in February 2017, after which the mother stopped contact. In September 2017, the mother and NG moved to the UK to escape the father’s intimidating behaviour. The father did not attempt contact with NG between February 2017 and January 2019.
The father made an application under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the “Hague Convention”) for the summary return of NG to Slovakia. The mother resisted the application on the basis that NG was settled in the UK, that the father had agreed to her relocation, and that the defence under Article 13(b) of the Hague Convention applied because there was a grave risk that NG’s return to Slovakia would expose her to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place her in an intolerable situation.
The court found that NG was settled and happy in the UK and it was not in her best interests to return to Slovakia. The court found that the contact arrangements with NG were to be considered by the English courts.
This case is a reminder that the court will always make decisions in a child’s best interests and ensure there is continuity and stability for them. Given this approach, you should both try to maintain regular direct contact with your children in order to establish a routine which should be adhered to as much as possible assuming there are no safeguarding concerns. If you or the other parent does not live nearby, contact should include telephone and video calls in between in-person contact.
Wallace Robinson & Morgan Limited are based in Solihull and Dorridge and serve clients across Birmingham and the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and further afield. Our team of Family Lawyers are happy to help if you would like advice about contact with your children following the end of your relationship, marriage, or civil partnership.
If you would like to discuss your matter, please call 0121 705 7571 and ask to speak to a member of the Family law team or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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