Family Law & Jurisdiction

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Many Irish people travel over and back to the U.K. and some may live in the U.K. for prolonged periods of time.  Many Irish citizens marry U.K. citizens and may live between the two jurisdictions.  In the event that there is a dispute between the parents leading to separation a frequent question raised is where will the children live.  Will the children live in Ireland or in the U.K?  A recent case in the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal brought by a father seeking the return of his three children to the U.K.

The family had moved to Ireland during the pandemic from the U.K. The primary issue that determines which jurisdiction decides as to where the children live is the jurisdiction in which the children have established habitual residence.  This is a difficult legal concept; it is based on both fact and law.

In the particular instance in this case the family had moved from the U.K. to Ireland with their three children, all three children were young.  The children’s mother was Irish and the children often came over to Ireland for holidays.  At the commence of the pandemic the family decided to move over to Ireland in the short term.  They then extended their stay.  Unfortunately, the relationship broke down and the father sought to return to the U.K. and bring the children with him.  The mother resisted that and stated that the children should remain with her in Ireland.

The High Court and indeed the Court of Appeal considered the facts of the case and the law and ultimately decided that the children should remain in Ireland with their mother.  The facts of the case are not unusual.  One of the children indicated that he felt both English and Irish, however, the Court of Appeal ultimately ordered that the children would remain in Ireland and, therefore, could not return with their father to the U.K.