(CMR) A Caymanian mother has sought the help of the court to have her eight-year-old child returned to the Cayman Islands after the child's father told her he was taking the child to the cinema and left the country.
The matter was heard by Justice Richard Williams, the Hague Convention Network Judge for the Cayman Islands, who ruled the child was wrongfully removed from the Cayman Islands.
According to court documents, the mother alleges that on 10 November 2023, the father informed her that he was taking the child to the cinema. However, he instead left the jurisdiction with the child without her knowledge or consent.
On 11 November 2023, the father told the mother on the telephone that he was staying with the child at the Westin Hotel and that he would have the child back to the mother by noon, but he had already left Cayman.
The mother contacted the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service on the same day when police, after contacting the Cayman Islands Immigration Department, confirmed that the child and the father had left for the father's home country.
The mother was also informed that the father had only purchased a one-way flight ticket and that his business partner had confirmed that the father asked him to buy out his interest in his Cayman Islands business for CI$45,000.
On 12 November 2023, via text messages, the father acknowledged that the child was in his home country. The mother demanded that the child be returned, talked about divorce proceedings, and threatened to involve Interpol. Days later, the father said that he did not need permission to take the child on vacation.
The father has reportedly removed all the original copies of the child’s paperwork and has been contacting her school requesting her academic transcripts. The mother fears that he is seeking to enroll the child at a school overseas.
This action coupled with the surreptitious way in which the father removed the child; the fact that he asked his business partner to pay out his share in their business; the fact that US$15,550 and other funds have been transferred by him to his personal overseas bank account; and the fact that he had purchased only a one-way flight ticket leads the mother to conclude that the father does not intend to return the child to the Cayman Islands.
The mother sought orders from the Court because of the alleged wrongful removal of the child and wants a Sole Residence Order, a Specific Issue Order requiring the father to forthwith return the child to her care in the Cayman Islands; and a Prohibited Steps Order prohibiting the father from obtaining information pertaining to the child from her school in the Cayman Islands.
The 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction is an international agreement, and it operates to ensure the fast return of children to the country where they normally live if, for example, they have been wrongly removed from there.
The judge said the mother has quite correctly contacted the Cayman Islands Central Authority who are in the process of making an application to seek the return of the child to the Cayman Islands.
If the father fails to comply with the orders of the Grand Court, then the application for a return order for the child will take place in the man's home country. The court there will likely wish to make orders for the child to be located and secured until that Court can determine that application. The Court may confiscate the passports of the child and the abducting parent. It is, therefore, important that the Central Authority application is processed promptly, the judgment read.