Boys taken from US by mother can remain here, says judge
Published 14/10/2011 | 05:00
TWO young boys wrongfully removed from New York by their mother about 15 months ago are to remain in Ireland.
The Supreme Court yesterday found the boys, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had expressed a clear desire to remain in this country with their mother and it was in their best interests to stay in Ireland.
Ms Chief Justice Susan Denham said it was one of those "exceptional" cases where the views of children -- aged nine and seven -- could result in a refusal to return them to the country in which they normally lived.
"There is a growing understanding of the importance of listening to a child," she added.
Ms Justice Denham was giving the five-judge court's unanimous judgment dismissing the father's appeal against the High Court's refusal to make an order returning the children to New York.
The core issue in the case concerned Article 13 of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction which provides a court may refuse to return a child to their country of habitual residence if the child objects to being returned and where the child has reached an age and degree of maturity where it is appropriate and valid to take account of their view.
The man and woman married in 2002 and the boys were born in 2002 and 2004.
The marriage ran into difficulties and the mother left on December 6, 2005, with the boys and secured a temporary custody and protection order from the New York family court the next day.
The father, who retained access rights to the children, filed divorce proceedings.
In June 2006, the mother applied to suspend access between the father and children pending investigation by children's services.
He was not present for family-law proceedings heard in New York in June, 2007, when the mother secured a decree of divorce and sole custody of the children and the father was refused access rights.
In 2009, the father had supervised visits with the children which were suspended in early 2010 when a court-appointed agency, which observed his weekly access visits, advised against further access unless he agreed to submit to therapy, which he refused.
In June 2010, the mother left New York with the children and went to her home country of Estonia before coming to Ireland, where her married sister lives.
In late 2010, the Supreme Court of New York ordered that legal custody of the children be transferred to the father due to the mother's failure to appear in court there.
The father then sought the return of the children under the Hague Convention.
Yesterday, dismissing their father's appeal, Ms Justice Denham noted that both boys, during assessment by a child psychiatrist, expressed a clear desire to remain living in Ireland with their mother.