A Cambridge University academic has been found to have unlawfully abducted her seven year old son from Japan, and must now return him to his father. The man and woman had worked at different universities in Japan and split up in 2013 after nine years of marriage.
They had reached an agreement at mediation in relation to the shared care of their son, but were involved in unresolved court proceedings in Tokyo when the woman flew to the UK with her son. She had been offered a post a Cambridge University and wanted to take up the position, taking her son with her. She had raised this with her estranged husband, but he had objected.
The father had applied to have his son returned under the Hague Convention, (which creates international obligations where there has been child abduction). The Convention is very clear on what constitutes child abduction. It’s primary intention is to return the abducted child to the country in which they were habitually resident, and the care arrangements in force immediately before the unlawful abduction. The UK has been a party to the convention since August 1986 and Japan became a party in April of this year.
The convention does not deal with any welfare or other issues regarding the children, and the only defences that can be raised are rarely successful. Judge Angela Finnerty stated “I am satisfied that the boy has been retained in the United Kingdom unlawfully in breach of the father’s custody rights”. Judge Finnerty stated that the woman should not have brought the child to England until the family court in Japan had concluded the current proceedings and she ordered the boy to be returned to Japan for the Japanese courts to deal with the issue of where the child should live.
More information relating to child abduction can be found here.
To learn more about the Reunite International Child Abduction Centre, please click here.
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