WS v KL [2020] EWHC 2548 (Fam)

A father’s appeal against an order allowing a mother to relocate two young children to Hong Kong was granted by Knowles J who found the judge had failed to carry out a proper welfare analysis or a proportionality assessment of the available options.

The parents and the children were born in Hong Kong.  They had moved to the UK in 2016.  The father had become concerned the mother would unilaterally take the children back to Hong Kong and applied for a prohibited steps order.  The mother replied with an application to relocate to Hong Kong.  The CAFCASS officer supported the mother’s application.

At appeal it was found that the judge’s decision was fundamentally flawed.  He had  failed to analyse both why the mother’s option was better for the children than the father’s or  the welfare factors relating to all the available options.  There was no consideration of the children remaining in the UK with both parents residing here, with little attention given to the father’s shared care application. The absence of a child-focussed, proportionate and holistic evaluation of each parent’s option for the care of these two children meant it was difficult to discern why the judge had reached his conclusion.

Trinity Chambers