Child-dependent visas – when joint parental responsibility breaks down

Danielle Cohen
By Danielle Cohen Immigration Law Solicitor Linkedin
Danielle Cohen has over 20 years of experience as a lawyer and a reputation for offering professional, honest and expert advice.
6 July 2023

We have assisted brothers who have been living with their father. The mother claimed that the children were being subjected to emotional and physical abuse by the father and that it is in their best interests to join her in the UK. The Home Office refused the child dependent visa application and having considered our work, the Judge found that the mother was a candid witness and full weight was attached to her evidence. Although the evidence did not support the findings of sole responsibility, this was an unusual case as the mother and the ex-husband had a working relationship as regards the upkeep of the children that would indicate joint responsibility. This arrangement then broke down and the ex-husband began taking unilateral decisions as regards the children. For example, the mother offered to pay for the children’s education, but the ex-husband refused to accept the money. His actions would undermine the best interests of the children in the Judge’s assessment. For example, he has taken them out of school, in part due to funding issues, and though the circumstances did not fit within the case law, these were relevant matters for the Judge’s consideration. We also provided an expert report in regards to the welfare of the children and the Judge found that to make disturbing reading.

The expert report recounted the allegations made by the children of the father inflicting severe punishment on them and whilst being sensitive to cultural differences in terms of parenting style, the Judge accepted that what was recounted was harrowing. It was clear that the physical abuse went over and above any form of acceptable chastisement and that the best interests of the children was not to remain in that situation. It was also an unusual case in that we managed to get the ex-husband to assist in providing a statement and that set out the background of the relationship between the father and the children and the statement assisted in the Judge reaching a conclusion that the home environment was not a conducive environment and in the best interests of these children. It was accepted that matters became worse during the Pandemic, and the Judge took into account all of the factors relating to the “pressure cooker” circumstances of various lock downs and the impact on household incomes and the effect it had on children’s welfare, both in the United Kingdom and in other countries. The Judge was satisfied that the children had been subjected to emotional and physical abuse and that it was in their best interests to join their mother in the United Kingdom. Therefore the case was won under the principle of the case Mundeba, that there were serious and compelling family and other considerations which made exclusion of the children undesirable.