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By Ilse de Lange


Custody battle after mother ‘abducts’ daughter to SA

The mother applied to a court in Luxembourg for permission to relocate with her daughter to SA, but it refused.

A French businesswoman who is accused of ignoring two Belgian court orders and abducting her four-year-old daughter to South Africa, has been taken to court by her child’s father and the South African central authority – to force her to return her daughter to Luxembourg.

An application by the father and the central authority to force the mother to either accompany her daughter to Belgium or hand her over to her former boyfriend, so that he can take his daughter back to Luxembourg, will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria this week.

If she refuses, they want the court to authorise the sheriff to remove the little girl from her mother’s care and hand her over to the family advocate to facilitate her return to Luxembourg with the help of a social worker.

Local authorities became embroiled in the custody battle between the partners after their counterparts in Luxembourg asked them to start proceedings under The Hague Convention for the child’s return.

According to court papers, the businesswoman met her former partner while they both worked for a company in Belgium. They started living together in 2013 and their daughter was born the next year, but she moved to Luxembourg in 2015 for a better job.

Their problems started when they broke up early the next year and the father had to fight in the courts in Luxembourgh for visiting rights, eventually winning joint custody. He has now applied for full custody of his daughter.

The mother, who also has a young son from her first marriage, in 2018 applied to the court in Luxembourg for permission to relocate with her daughter to South Africa, but the court refused, and also turned down her bid to appeal. Her legal battle to overturn the ruling is ongoing.

The mother then allegedly ignored the court orders and secretly moved to South Africa, where she and her two children now live with her new husband in Centurion.

She insists she could not afford to return to Belgium but the father says she is wealthy, but is preventing him from seeing his daughter at all costs.

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