No matter how much you may be tempted, taking the law into your own hands is not a good idea.

When a mother who was divorcing her husband in Hawaii obtained the agreement of the US court to take the couple’s children, aged 9 and 11, back to the UK for a holiday, she completed the first part of the trip but refused to return the children as had been agreed.

Her husband sought, by way of proceedings under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 and the 1980 Hague Convention, to have them returned to Hawaii where a hearing to determine their future residence had already been scheduled.

The mother’s reluctance was on the grounds that, if she did return to Hawaii with the children in order to attend the proceedings, they would face physical or psychological harm and that they wished to remain in the UK with her and were of an age where their feelings should be given weight by the court.

As is common in such cases, numerous allegations were made by each of the parents regarding the behaviour of the other which it was not possible to substantiate.

Despite the fact that the children had expressed a wish to remain in the UK, the judge could see nothing untoward in their father’s proposed arrangements for safeguarding them in the short period before the custody hearing to determine their futures was due to take place in Hawaii. The presiding judge considered that the mother’s objections were ‘flagrant’ and that her ‘action was deliberate and pre-meditated, and that she had actively sought to avoid detection by the father’.


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