Parental Freedom Comes Second to Child Welfare

Prioritising the welfare of young children can sometimes involve cutting down on their parents’ freedom of movement, as a mother found out when a family judge banned her from taking her son and daughter on holiday to North Africa.

The mother had asked the judge to sanction her trip overseas with her children, aged six and four, saying that her intention was to introduce them to their wider family and their cultural roots. However, their father, from whom she was separated, expressed concern that she would not return with them to Britain.

The children were well settled in this country, where they had spent all their lives, and their father was determined that they should be brought up here. In blocking the mother’s travel plans, the judge found that there was a clear risk that she would not return with them to Britain. If that happened, the children’s lives in this country would be dislocated and they would be beyond their father’s effective reach.