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Supreme Court orders return of son to Texas in KL (A Child)

Court exercises inherent jurisdiction to return child with UK habitual residence

In In the Matter of KL (A Child) [2013] UKSC 75, the Supreme Court has unanimously allowed the appeal by the father and ordered the return of K, the parties' son, to the US on the basis of the undertakings offered by the father to enable the mother to live in Texas, independently of the father. The care of K will be shared between them, pending any application the mother might make to the Texas court to modify the order relating to K's residence. The sole judgment was given by Lady Hale.

Although the Court agreed that the habitual residence of K was the UK, it held that the judge did not ask himself the correct question That question is whether it is in K's best interests to remain in the UK, so that the dispute between his parents is decided here, or to return to Texas so that the dispute can be decided there.

The court, exercising its inherent jurisdiction found that the crucial factor is that K is a Texan child who is currently being denied a proper opportunity to develop a relationship with his father and with his country of birth.

Richard Harrison QC, Jennifer Perrins and Samantha Ridley, all of 1 King's Bench Walk (instructed by Bindmans LLP) represented the father.  Henry Setright QC and Michael Gration, both of 4 Paper Buildings (instructed by Freemans), represented the mother. Reunite International, an intervener in the Supreme Court proceedings was represented by Teertha Gupta QC of 4 Paper Buildings,  Edward Devereux of Harcourt Chambers and Michael Edwards of 4 Paper Buildings (instructed by Lyons Davidson).

The judgment is here.