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N.Irish mother seeks custody of her son in Malta

A woman from Northern Ireland has come to Malta to try and overturn a court order issued in Belfast that her 10-year-old son must live with his Maltese father, the Belfast Telegraph has reported.

The father was given custody to his son by a High Court in Northern Ireland. The mother is now hoping to persuade the Maltese authorities to grant joint custody.

In granting the father custody, the judge had 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.

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