U v U [2002] HCA 36

A woman, born in India and resident in Australia, applied to the Family Court on the breakdown of her marriage for parenting orders that would allow her to return permanently with her daughter back to her home in India. She did not have the support of family or friends, nor had she been able to find skilled work in Australia. The father had also been born in India but was an Australian citizen, and had been living and working in Australia since 1973. The woman’s application was refused. On appeal to the Full Court of the Family Court, it was submitted for the mother that the judge had failed to consider and compare the two proposals of the parties and had erroneously focused on the security of the father’s contact with the child. The appeal was dismissed. In affirming the Family Court’s decision, it was held by the High Court that the objective of the Family Court had to be to achieve the child’s best interests. This is the key Australian family law case concerning international relocation.

Commentary author

Rachael Field is an Associate Professor in the Law School, Queensland University of Technology. Rachel is president of the Women’s Legal Service based in Queensland. Her research interests include alternative dispute resolution and family law.

Judgment author

Jonathan Crowe is an Associate Professor in the T C Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland. Jonathan has published widely on natural law theory and existentialist ethics as well as family law. His research interests include legal theory and moral philosophy.