SITTING IN SHEFFIELD
B e f o r e :
| FZ (father)
|- and -
Natalia Escoriza (instructed by Best, solicitors) for the Father
Hearing dates: 1, 2, 3 February 2016
Crown Copyright ©
The Honourable Mr. Justice Cobb:
"I cannot continue to live in this country. I am isolated and I suffer from depression. In Poland, I will have support from my parents and family members. In this country, I have few friends. My main sources of support are workers attached to the Domestic Abuse Refuge and I know their involvement must come to an end. In Poland, I have a large extended family and many friends. I am in a precarious situation with regard to my benefits. I have been assessed as fit for work and I cannot continue to claim jobseekers allowance as I have not continuously worked in the UK for five years. I do not know how I will manage to live. I will suffer financial hardship.… The Respondent's grandparents live just 30 km from my parents' home. The respondent regularly travels around Europe.… He can visit [AZ] on a regular basis. I feel trapped in this country and recently I have met with racism aimed at me and my daughter stop this is having a further negative impact on me."
"The ways in which parents provide for the care of their children are, and should be, infinitely varied. In the best of cases they are flexible and responsive to the needs of the children over time. When a relocation application falls to be determined, all of the facts need to be considered."
" Given the agreement of the parties to an holistic approach to the court's welfare analysis, I need to set out what that involves. The re-crafting of section 8 orders from residence and contact into child arrangements orders has inter alia the benefit of emphasising, absent adverse circumstances and welfare conclusions, the equality of parental responsibility that each parent has. Parents are to be expected to exercise their autonomy and to respect the autonomy of their children by entering into arrangements that plan for their children's long term welfare by providing for a meaningful relationship between each adult and each child.
 Where there is more than one proposal before the court, a welfare analysis of each proposal will be necessary. That is neither a new approach nor is it an option. A welfare analysis is a requirement in any decision about a child's upbringing. The sophistication of that analysis will depend on the facts of the case. Each realistic option for the welfare of a child should be validly considered on its own internal merits (i.e. an analysis of the welfare factors relating to each option should be undertaken). That prevents one option (often in a relocation case the proposals from the absent or 'left behind' parent) from being side-lined in a linear analysis. Not only is it necessary to consider both parents' proposals on their own merits and by reference to what the child has to say but it is also necessary to consider the options side by side in a comparative evaluation. A proposal that may have some but no particular merit on its own may still be better than the only other alternative which is worse".
"'the old-fashioned welfare balancing exercise', in which each and every relevant factor relating to a child's welfare is weighed, one against the other, to determine which of a range of options best meets the requirement to afford paramount consideration to the welfare of the child. The overall balancing exercise is 'holistic' in that it requires the court to look at the factors relating to a child's welfare as a whole; as opposed to a 'linear' approach which only considers individual components in isolation" 
He added that in a case of international relocation:
"… [T]he factors that must be given due consideration and appropriate weight on either side of the scales of the welfare balance may be such as to require an analysis of some sophistication and complexity. However, whatever the issue before the court, the task is the same; the court must weigh up all of the relevant factors, look at the case as a whole, and determine the course that best meets the need to afford paramount consideration to the child's welfare. That is what, and that is all, that I intended to convey by the short phrase 'global, holistic evaluation'". 
The mother's case
"I confirm to the court that I do not have any wish or intention to move to Poland in the immediate future. There are no plans in place for this to happen.… I have seriously considered moving back to Poland as I would like to be near to and have the support of my family but if this happened it would not be for at least a couple of years' time… I would like to visit my family in Poland…"
"…been supporting the mother for approximately 12 months, during that time they feel that her self-confidence has improved and she is much more able to manage her own situation. Initially she had been withdrawn and lacking the skills to interact with other adults; she would isolate herself rather than meet with others." (Cafcass report)
"[The mother] has been diagnosed with a reactive depression. This started in 2014 (when she was registered at a different GP practice) and has been documented on our system here since March 2015. The vast majority of her depression has been as a result of a traumatic split with her ex-partner… And her strong desire to return to Poland with [AZ] and feeling rather "trapped" here in the UK until that is possible. She has been suffering with low mood, anxiety and feeling of despair. She has been greatly helped by occasional visits from her mother. She was referred briefly to our counselling service here at the practice and she has remained on the antidepressant treatment…which was started before she registered here with us.
The father's case
"We spoke for another hour… she would try to sort out her life in England and if she was still not happy here she would go back to Poland and we would think when and how I can meet with [AZ]. We shook each other's hands and I left to [go] home".
"… [T]he effect on the mother being forced to stay in England would, in my opinion, be devastating. I have no doubt that her unhappiness, sense of isolation and depression, would be enhanced to a degree which could well be damaging to [AZ] whose welfare is, of course, the paramount consideration. If any single factor needs to be considered, it is that the future happiness of AZ will be best assured by her being brought up in a place in which the mother is not just content, but happy..… The mother is meeting all the needs of her daughter and I feel that she should be allowed to be able to do so in the future, in the area of her choice."
"I am of the opinion that the application by the mother is genuine and not motivated through selfish reasons to exclude [AZ] from her father's life. She has provided to the court comprehensive details of the practical proposals should she be allowed to return to Poland."
"I feel that he has a good relationship with [AZ] and this could continue even if she was resident in Poland; there are frequent flights that are available that would allow him to visit regularly. The extended paternal family would be able to provide extensive details of [AZ] and how she was progressing and this would go some way towards enabling the father to be aware of any progression during the period that he was not spending time with [AZ].… I am of the opinion that arrangements could be made for the father to spend time with [AZ], and the mother has offered to finance the travel costs…. I am of the opinion that the application by the mother is genuine and not motivated through selfish reasons to exclude [AZ] from her father's life. She has provided to the court comprehensive details of the practical proposals should she be allowed to return to Poland. I am of the opinion that the mother should be allowed to return to Poland with AZ and that the father should be able to spend regular time with her."