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Judge wrong to allow man to take both sons to Canada

The court of Appeal has ruled that a judge was wrong to treat two brothers as if their interests were the same and then allow their father to take them to live in Canada.

The case involved two brothers aged 16 and 12. When their parents separated, the boys continued to live with their mother and maintained regular contact with their father.

Their father then decided that he wanted to return to his native Canada and applied to the court for permission to take his sons with him.

An officer from CAFCASS, the organisation that protects the interests of children in court cases, gave evidence that the existing arrangements with the boys living in England with their mother was satisfactory and there was no overwhelming reason to make a change.

The judge, however, decided that the boys should be allowed to live with their father. His decision was influenced by the fact that the 16-year-old wrote a letter for the courts saying that he and his brother wanted to go to Canada. The letter was signed by both boys.

The judge also feared that the boys might be disheartened if they were prevented from going; this would affect their education and their relationship with their mother.

The order was made and the 16-year-old moved with his father. The mother appealed the decision relating to the 12-year-old so he remained in England until the case was completed.

A further CAFCASS report indicated that the 12-year-old had become unsure about the move, was happy at school and did not seem to miss his brother. The Court of Appeal held that the judge had been wrong to treat the boys as a unit and should have considered their interests individually. If he had done so he would have rejected the father’s application in relation to the 12-year-old.

The Court allowed the mother’s appeal and her younger son will now stay with her.

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