Children thrive best when they have ready contact with both their parents. However, as one case involving the eight-year-old son of Polish parents showed, difficulties frequently arise where one parent wishes to relocate overseas.
The end of the parents’ relationship was acrimonious and their son had suffered a degree of emotional harm as a result. However, they had settled into shared care arrangements in England before the mother formed a new relationship with a successful businessman who lived in Poland. She applied to a family judge for permission to move back to her homeland with her son.
Her proposal was met by the father’s fierce resistance and, in refusing permission, the judge was highly critical of the mother. Amongst other things, he found that, in presenting her son as an ill child, she had deliberately exaggerated or invented his psychological problems in an attempt to add weight to her case.
In upholding the mother’s appeal against that decision, the High Court recognised that it was a difficult and finely balanced case. However, the judge had left various relevant factors out of consideration, in particular the profound difficulties that the mother would encounter in maintaining her new relationship if she had to remain in England and the likely impact of that on her son.
There was a lack of balance in the judge’s findings in respect of the mother’s alleged medicalisation of her son; there had been no assessment of her ability to make a living in England and insufficient weight had been given to her history of promoting contact between her son and his father. In the circumstances, the mother’s application to relocate was remitted to a different judge for reconsideration.