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April 1, 2023

Dead UK mother loses Australian custody fight

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British justice Roderic Wood
British justice Roderic Wood

London – PAA  An English woman who did not want her two children to live with her ex-husband in Australia has lost a fight from beyond the grave in a British court.

The woman had written in a will that ‘under no circumstances’ did she wish the youngsters – an eight-year-old girl and a seven-year-old boy – to return to their Australian father.

Her parents and her ex-husband, who is of Aboriginal descent, became embroiled in a family court fight over the children’s futures after she died late in 2014.

A judge on Wednesday ruled in favour of the woman’s ex-husband following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Justice Roderic Wood, who ruled that the family involved could not be identified, had been told that the pair had married a decade ago and lived in Darwin, Australia.

The woman had cancer and travelled from Australia to England for treatment – with the children – in July, 2013, when still married.

Her then husband had agreed to the trip on the basis that she was going for treatment and the children would have a holiday.

But, without his knowledge, she had taken legal advice and decided that she wished to stay in England with the children.

She had signed a will and ‘made it clear’ that she wanted the children to ‘have little or nothing to do with their father’, the judge said.

The judge explained that she had written: ‘Under no circumstances do I wish my children to be returned to their biological father in Australia as this would be extremely detrimental to their lives.’

But the woman’s ex-husband said they should be returned to Australia under the terms in an international convention.

He said they had been born in Australia, had grown up in Australia and their habitual residence was in Australia.

The judge said the man had been misled by his ex-wife and the children had been wrongfully retained by her in England.

Neither child objected to returning to their father in Australia, and they had not ‘settled’ in England, he added.

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