Barbara Connolly QC and Anita Guha acted for the Appellant mother on a successful appeal against the findings made by a High Court Judge in a stranded spouse case involving allegations of parental alienation.

The Court of Appeal was persuaded that the Appellant had overcome the high hurdle of persuading the court that the fact finding judgment should be overturned following a 8 day fact finding hearing conducted before Mr Justice Keehan. The primary argument advanced on behalf of the Appellant was accepted by the Court of Appeal that the judge had fallen into error by finding that the mother had not been stranded in spite of accepting the Mother’s case that the Father had retained the Mother’s passport following the family’s arrival in Pakistan.

“ Transnational marriage abandonment”  refers to the practice whereby a husband, in England and Wales, deliberately abandons or “strands” his foreign national wife abroad, usually without financial resources, in order to prevent her from asserting matrimonial and/or residence rights in England and Wales. It may involve children who are either abandoned with, or separated from, their mother. The core feature of the concept of stranding or abandonment is the exploitation or the attempted exploitation by one spouse of the other’s vulnerability or weakness to seek to ensure that they are not able to come to or return to the UK.

The Court of Appeal accepted that the analysis of Mr Justice Keehan was flawed and that his findings were internally inconsistent. The Court of Appeal agreed that the issue of stranding was a fundamental issue and significantly interconnected/overlapped with the determination of the other key factual issues including the reasons why the children expressed such hostility towards their mother.

This is the first reported case in the Court of the Appeal that has considered the issues that arise in stranded spouse cases.


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