Aslan v Huffman [2020] NZFC 10288

Published 09 April 2021

Childcare contact arrangement — overseas travel — international travel restrictions — travel advisory — COVID-19 — coronavirus — global pandemic — vaccination — Care of Children Act 2004, s 133 — Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. The applicant mother sought permission for the parties' two children to be able to travel to Spain to visit her and for the children to relocate to live with her there. The children lived in New Zealand with the respondent father who opposed the relocation application but did not oppose the children visiting their mother. An order had been in place for the children to visit their mother in Malta and she had wrongfully kept them with her when they had visited her. The father had applied under the Hague Convention for the children to returned to New Zealand. This hearing was to determine the travel arrangements amid the global pandemic, with the relocation application to be determined later. The applicant submitted that nothing short of a full lockdown in Spain ought to prevent the children from visiting her, and insisted that she would protect them. The respondent father submitted the children should only be permitted to travel if there was a vaccine available or until the New Zealand government travel advisory was that it was safe to travel. The views of the children were that they wanted to travel and go to school in Spain, desires which had been encouraged by their mother. The Judge noted that there were no certain arrangements for schooling for just one term in Spain in early 2021, and that the children should focus on being settled in their school in New Zealand after the trauma of being removed from Malta. The Judge determined that the children ought to be able to visit their mother for a month if the travel advisory was that it was safe to travel or that the children had been vaccinated. As this was an interim decision which could not be filed as a final order with the Spanish courts, orders were made that the children be permitted to travel to Spain on the condition that they travel through Hague Convention contracting countries, that their passports were to be held at the embassy and that they be medically insured. With regards to the relocation proceedings, directions were given as to filing and timetabling. Judgment Date: 18 November 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *