On 21 March 1990 the mother removed the child, aged two, from Australia, where he had been habitually resident, to England with the intention of permanently residing here. She did so without the knowledge of the father who also resided in Australia but who, not having been married to the mother, had at that time no rights of custody in relation to the child. So the mother’s removal of him was not wrongful within the meaning of the 1980 Convention. On 12 April 1990, however, an Australian judge conferred rights of custody on the father. The House was asked whether a child had ceased to be habitually resident in Western Australia when his mother took him away with the settled intention of living in England.
Held: Habitual residence is a question of fact, to be decided in the light of all the circumstances.
Lord Brandon of Oakbrook said: ‘In considering this issue it seems to me to be helpful to deal first with a number of preliminary points. The first point is that the expression ‘habitually resident,’ as used in article 3 of the Convention, is nowhere defined. It follows, I think, that the expression is not to be treated as a term of art with some special meaning, but is rather to be understood according to the ordinary and natural meaning of the two words which it contains. The second point is that the question whether a person is or is not habitually resident in a specified country is a question of fact to be decided by reference to all the circumstances of any particular case. The third point is that there is a significant difference between a person ceasing to be habitually resident in country A, and his subsequently becoming habitually resident in country B. A person may cease to be habitually resident in country A in a single day if he or she leaves it with a settled intention not to return to it but to take up long-term residence in country B instead. Such a person cannot, however, become habitually resident in country B in a single day. An appreciable period of time and a settled intention will be necessary to enable him or her to become so. During that appreciable period of time the person will have ceased to be habitually resident in country A but not yet have become habitually resident in country B. The fourth point is that, where a child of J.’s age is in the sole lawful custody of the mother, his situation with regard to habitual residence will necessarily be the same as hers.’
Lord Brandon of Oakbrook, Lord Donaldson of Lymington MR
 2 AC 562, Times 31-Jul-1990,  3 WLR 14,  2 All ER 449
Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985
England and Wales
Appeal from – C v C (Minor:Abduction: Rights of Custody Abroad) CA 1989
The English mother married the Australian father in Australia and bore their child their. After divorce both parents had custody with no right to remove the child. The mother brought the child to England without the father’s consent.
Held: The . .
Applied – In Re M (A Minor) (Habitual Residence) CA 3-Jan-1996
An habitual residence dispute is a dispute on a matter of fact not of law. It cannot be settled by the choice of the parents. A child cannot acquire habitual residence in a country without actually being physically present in that country. . .
Cited – Nessa v Chief Adjudication Officer HL 3-Nov-1999
Mrs. Nessa arrived at Heathrow aged 55 having lived all her life in Bangladesh. Her husband, Mr. Mobarak Ali, had lived in the United Kingdom from 1962 until he died in 1975 and when she arrived here, Mrs. Nessa had a right of abode. She hoped to . .
Cited – Re J (A Child), Re (Child returned abroad: Convention Rights); (Custody Rights: Jurisdiction) HL 16-Jun-2005
The parents had married under shariah law. They left the US to return to the father’s home country Saudi Arabia. They parted, and the mother brought their son to England against the father’s wishes and in breach of an agreement. The father sought . .
Cited – In re K (Children) CA 27-Jul-2005
The mother appealed an order that her younger son be placed in care and freed for adoption. Hers and her children’s lives had been chaotic. Nevertheless she complained that she had not been given the opportunity to demonstrate her ability to care . .
Cited – Collins v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions CA 4-Apr-2006
The claimant had dual Irish and US nationality. He therefore also was a citizen of the EU. He complained that the British rules against payment of job seekers’ allowance were discriminatory. The matter had already been to the ECJ.
Held: The . .
Cited – W v F FD 4-Apr-2007
Application by father for summary return of son to the USA. The mother said that the father had consented to his removal and acquiesced in his stay here.
Held: The mother had a settled intention to remain in the US when she first arrived, but . .
Cited – Re KL (A Child) SC 4-Dec-2013
How should the courts of this country react when a child is brought here pursuant to an order made abroad in proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which is later over-turned on appeal? K was a . .
Cited – A v A and another (Children) (Children: Habitual Residence) (Reunite International Child Abduction Centre intervening) SC 9-Sep-2013
Acquisition of Habitual Residence
Habitual residence can in principle be lost and another habitual residence acquired on the same day.
Held: The provisions giving the courts of a member state jurisdiction also apply where there is an alternative jurisdiction in a non-member . .
Cited – Re B (A Child) SC 3-Feb-2016
Habitual Residence of Child not lost
(Orse In re B (A Child) (Reunite International Child Abduction Centre intervening)) The Court considered the notion of habitual residence. The British girl with same sex parents had been taken to Pakistan, and her mother here sought her return. The . .
Cited – Re C (Children) SC 14-Feb-2018
‘This appeal concerns the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. It raises general questions relating to:
(1) the place which the habitual residence of the child occupies in the scheme of that Convention, and . .
Cited – In Re S (A Minor) (Abduction: European Convention) HL 30-Jul-1997
An illegitimate child’s habitual country of residence is determined at the date of death of his mother when he was to be removed following the death. Where the mother of an illegitimate child who is resident in England dies and the grandmother takes . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.182951