Child abducted from Portugal by mother five years ago does not have to come back

In a case that shows ‘wrongful removal’ can occasionally turn right, a Scottish judge has ruled that a Portuguese child abducted by her mother and taken to Scotland five years ago does not have to be returned to the country of her birth.

The girl, now aged 10, has made it clear she does not want to leave Scotland, she is happy at school, she doesn’t speak Portuguese – and she has said she would run away if returned to Portugal against her will.

Defeated by this decision is the Portuguese father who had joint custody of the child when she was abducted, and who has been trying to get her back ever since.

At first he thought the mother had taken the child to Brazil, but eventually he tracked the duo down to Hamilton, near Glasgow, and petitioned the Court of Session in Scotland to have his daughter returned to Portugal.

Judge Lady Wise however decided against the letter of the law, and instead chose to interpret what she felt would be in the best interests of the child.

As reports – both in Scotland and Portugal – have confirmed, the girl’s mother has always claimed that she left Portugal because the father was “violent and aggressive”.

The Scottish Court of Session is on a par with Portugal’s Supreme Court, so it looks as though this case may finally be closed.

Judge Lady Wise said she hoped now that the Portuguese father would accept his daughter’s domicile in Scotland and “make the appropriate, sensible gestures towards healing the conflict”.

The judge conceded that the child had been “illicitly removed” from the joint custody arrangement with the father, but that so much time had past, other considerations had to be taken into account.

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Photo: Court of Session, in Edinburgh, Scotland