A Malta Court has rejected a Hague Convention application by an English resident for return of a 12 year old boy to the mother who had been awarded custody of him by an English court several years earlier.
The Court ruled that the boy would be placed at grave risk of physical and psychological harm if he returned, because his older brother had been in some scrapes with the law while living with his mother in England. The boy also reported that he had observed drug use in his mother’s home.
The boy’s father had reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown when he lived in the UK, and afterward abandoned his family to return to Malta.
Nonetheless, the two older children allegedly moved back with their father in Malta when they turned 15, under circumstances which were not reported.
The boy allegedly decided to stay in Malta while on vacation with his father and siblings, because “it’s not safe … I don’t want to end up in crime like my brother”. It was not reported whether the Malta Court considered whether the boy had been manipulated or coached.
This case demonstrates how differently the Hague Convention is interpreted and applied by different countries. Many countries would have returned the boy to the custody review and supervision of the country whose courts had already validly exercised jurisdiction over him.