Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK

- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -

Removal from jurisdiction (UK)

Since 1970 the precedents for removing children from the UK and depriving them of contact with one parent have been guided more by the desire of the parent with whom they reside than what is best for the children.

It had been hoped that there would a major change in the attitude of the courts with the advent of the Children Act 1989, but although there have been some changes, it has been held that the Act has not fundamentally altered the underlying factors which need to be taken into account (H v H [1995] 1 FLR 529). Despite this there have been some changes which can be seen as signs of hope for those children who want to retain a meaningful relationship with both parents.

The key arguments which has been used since Poel v Poel ([1970] WLR 1469) and Lonslow v Hennig ([1986] 2 FLR 378) have been that

Convoluted and unconvincing arguments if ever there were any, based entirely on conjecture and hardly a model for good parenting.

Although the Court of Appeal have persisted with this line of argument, Mr Justice Thorpe in the Family Division has taken a more enlightened attitude about the importance of the relationship between children and their fathers and the wider family - see Re K([1992] 2 FLR 98) and MH v GP ([1995] 2 FLR 106).

What seems to be evolving is that strong bonds with fathers (particularly if the children are boys) are seen as of very great importance, and that proposals to reduce contact to what are effectively annual visits are a retrograde step - see Tyler v Tyler ([1989] 2 FLR 158), Re K ([1992] 2 FLR 98), M v M ([1992] 2 FLR 303), M v A ([1993] 2 FLR 715], M v M ([1993] Fam Law 396) and MH v GP ([1995] 2 FLR 106).

However in B (minors ([1994] Fam Law 11) the mother, who had remarried was allowed to emigrate because of the alleged 'seething resentment' on the part of the daughters, mother and stepfather if forced to stay in UK.

With the coming of the Family Law Act 1996 and true 'no-fault' divorce, we must press for changes in the attitude of the courts. No longer can the so-called absent parent be seen as the guilty party - someone who has to be punished by having their children removed to a distant place.

Articles on the subject

Notes of cases referred to

David Cannon

Last updated - 26 July 1999

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