Key facts of the case:
An unmarried couple of a British (father) and a French (mother) national had lived together for some years in UK, but some days before the birth of the common child the father left the family home. Three months after the birth of the child the mother, in legal terms sole responsible for the child, left UK for her place of origin in France (Réunion), without having informed the father in advance of the departure.
Immediately after having realised the departure the father seised a British court, applying for parental responsibility, shared residence and rights of contact. The mother did not comply with that decision but on her turn seised a French court which granted sole parental responsibility to her and dismissed a parallel action of the father for return of the child to UK.
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
- The concept of ‘habitual residence’, for the purposes of Articles 8 and 10 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000, must be interpreted as meaning that such residence corresponds to the place which reflects some degree of integration by the child in a social and family environment. To that end, where the situation concerned is that of an infant who has been staying with her mother only a few days in a Member State – other than that of her habitual residence – to which she has been removed, the factors which must be taken into consideration include, first, the duration, regularity, conditions and reasons for the stay in the territory of that Member State and for the mother’s move to that State and, second, with particular reference to the child’s age, the mother’s geographic and family origins and the family and social connections which the mother and child have with that Member State. It is for the national court to establish the habitual residence of the child, taking account of all the circumstances of fact specific to each individual case. If the application of the abovementioned tests were, in the case in the main proceedings, to lead to the conclusion that the child’s habitual residence cannot be established, which court has jurisdiction would have to be determined on the basis of the criterion of the child’s presence, under Article 13 of the Regulation.
- Judgments of a court of a Member State which refuse to order the prompt return of a child under the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the civil aspects of international child abduction to the jurisdiction of a court of another Member State and which concern parental responsibility for that child have no effect on judgments which have to be delivered in that other Member State in proceedings relating to parental responsibility which were brought earlier and are still pending in that other Member State.