Family Law Hub

Committal

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  • A hearing at which Cobb J considered the appropriate sanction for breaches of a freezing injunction. The parties had never married, but lived together for about 20 years and had five children. The female partner had asserted that there had been 562 withdrawals from the account, and the vast majority had been proven. Cobb J took into account that it was not the female partner's wish to see the male partner imprisoned, and that the breaches had been deliberate, repeated, and over an extended period of time, leaving the account materially depleted, and that the male partner had at no time admitted his wrongdoing or accepted responsibilty for the breach. A six-month sentence of imprisonment would be the appropriate sanction, suspended for twelve months, to ensure his compliance with the extant final orders. Judgment, 18/11/2020, free
  • The mother was a Bulgarian national with indefinite leave to remain, and was currently in Bulgaria with the two-year-old daughter. She was prevented from bringing the daughter back to England by an order of the Bulgarian court. The father had dual Bulgarian and British nationality and was in London. The central issue before the court, in what was described as "somewhat chaotic litigation", was whether a passport order should be discharged, but the court also considered the mother's application for committal of the father, and the issue of whether the English court or the Bulgarian court had jurisdiction regarding the daughter. Cobb J directed that the father's British passport should be returned to him forthwith. The father was directed to execute all necessary documents and travel consents to ensure that the mother was forthwith able to return the daughter to the jurisdiction of England and Wales. The committal order was dismissed; in Cobb J's view it was destined to fail. The case would be listed for further directions on the issue of habitual residence and jurisdiction once the International Family Justice Office had indicated whether it was able to establish the status of the proceedings in the Bulgarian courts. Judgment, 11/11/2020, free
  • The unmarried couple had separated and the female partner had moved out of the family home. Their two children were now adults. She sought a sale of the property under TOLATA 1996 on the basis that it had had been purchased for the purpose of providing a family home and that purpose had come to an end. An order was made for the male partner to give up vacant possession of the property, and he was forbidden from interfering with the sale. He was then committed to prison for breaches of those injunctive orders, and now appealed against that sentence. Baker LJ found that none of the grounds or arguments advanced established that the judge had been wrong either in any of her findings or in the sentence passed. The male partner did not accept the validity of the order made in the TOLATA proceedings and believed that he was entitled to disregard it. He would have continued to defy the order if allowed his liberty. Bean LJ agreed, and the appeal was dismissed. Judgment, 24/04/2020, free
  • The son had been retained in India by the mother, despite orders made for his return. The father applied for committal of the mother. Williams J was satisfied that the relevant orders had been properly served on the mother, that she was aware of the obligation to return the son, that the obligation was clear, and that the orders were clear as to the consequences of non-compliance. The mother had wilfully failed to comply with three orders of the court, and he therefore found her in contempt. The sentence of six months' imprisonment was suspended for 28 days to give her a final opportunity to return the child. Judgment, 23/12/2019, free
  • The mother applied to commit the father for contempt of court. They had met, married and lived in England. In 2018 they had travelled to Saudi Arabia, where the father had said they would thereafter remain. During a trip to Pakistan for a wedding, the mother had made arrangements to return to England, but had been prevented from bringing one of their two children. She commenced proceedings here on the basis that the child remained habitually resident in England and Wales, and the father was ordered to bring her back. He did not. Holman J was satisfied that the father had been fully engaged in the proceedings, and that he was fully aware of the precise terms of the order. He was now deliberately in contempt of court. However, the mother's wish was to have her daughter returned, not for the father to be imprisoned, and Holman J adjourned the question of sanction and sentence to a date not less than six weeks after the hearing, with no sentence to be served if the father did return the child. Judgment, 30/11/2019, free

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