Court in Northern Ireland grants Maltese father custody of his son, 10
A Maltese man has been given custody to his 10-year-old son by a High Court in Northern Ireland.
The Belfast Telegraph has reported that Mr Justice Gillen granted an application brought under the Hague Convention on the grounds of the child's wrongful detention.
The judgment was delivered last month but has only been published now.
The judge held that although the boy spoke of wanting to remain in Northern Ireland, his views were influenced by having spent the last three months living with his mother. The judge warned of the potential consequences of a boy having to choose between “warring parents”.
The couple lived in Northern Ireland for five years before settling in Malta in 1996.
They split up a year after their son was born in 2002. The boy continued to live in Malta with his mother until May 2011 when an alleged drunken incident led to him being placed into his father's care.
He went to Northern Ireland in July of this year for a one-month summer holiday with his mother.
But when he was not returned to Malta, proceedings were triggered under the Hague Convention
The boy's mother argued that her son objected to being returned and was old enough for his views to be taken into account.
The child said he liked living in Malta but had not enjoyed living with his father's girlfriend. At one stage he started crying and spoke of not wanting to go back to Malta as he would miss his mother.
However, Mr Justice Gillen detailed a series of undertakings by the boy's father, including paying for flight tickets for the mother and son's return.
Mr Justice Gillen also took into account how the boy said he liked living with his dad and said he did not consider the child's asserted objection sufficient to dissuade him from ordering a return.