Pauline Fowler was interviewed today on BBC Radio 5 Live on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the habitual residence of a child.
The Supreme Court has allowed an appeal by the non-biological mother of a seven-year-old daughter: the birth mother’s unilateral decision to take the child to Pakistan to live did not mean that child immediately lost her habitual residence in the UK.
The decision means the English courts will retain full jurisdiction over the child’s welfare and allows a High Court judge here to make decisions on the Children Act application the other mother had initiated. It is an important ruling for several reasons:
It clarifies the law on the habitual residence of a child and the circumstances in which a child may lose his/her habitual residence
The judgement recognises the status of the other mother, who had no legal status as a parent as it was not possible at the date the child was born to name both mothers on the birth certificate
By extension, it recognises the importance of parents in children’s lives who may not have a legal status.