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Family Law Solicitors

Irish Courts see rise in Polish custody battles

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Sunday Times

Mark Tighe

The High Court is ruling on an increasing number of child abduction cases involving Polish couples after one of the parents has returned home.

In the past year Judge Mary Finlay Geoghegan has issued rulings on four cases involving separated Polish couples in which one parent has accused the other of abducting a child. In each case the judge found largely in favour of the father.

Last September, Finlay Geoghegan ruled that an 11 year old girl who lives with her father in Poland must return to attend fifth class in Ireland with her mother, before returning to Poland for the rest of her education. The father has refused to comply with the order, and last week the mother made representations to the Polish courts.

The father has criticised the Irish judge’s ruling in the Polish media. He claims it makes his daughter an “international child” and would harm her education. “In school in Poland my daughter is a leader and is commended for her results,” he said. “If she returned to Ireland for one year she would fall behind and become a follower. The maths and science courses in Ireland do not compare with the level in Polish schools. To return her to Ireland would not be in her best interests.”

The mother, who lives in the west of Ireland, has accused her husband of “twisting the truth”. The wants her daughter to join her in Ireland for a year, as ordered by the High Court.

Irish lawyers say enforcing court orders in other jurisdictions can be a problem in such cases, which are heard under the Hague Convention that requires countries to comply with custody orders made in other countries.

Ireland dealt with 142 child-abduction cases involving 198 children last year, up from 72 cases involving 112 children in 2002. Polisy children are involved in the second-highest number of cases, 7%, after the UK on 61%.