Ruth Cabeza acts for successful adoptive parents in novel inherent jurisdiction case

18 May 2020

Ruth Cabeza acted for the successful adoptive parents in a novel case concerning a geographically split family. The adoptive father had to be in the UK for medical reasons and his wife and 2 adopted children were stranded in the Philippines.

The case involved a complex factual matrix concerning issues of domicile, comity, public policy and child welfare.  The adoptive parents sought recognition of Filipino adoption orders made in 2006 under the inherent jurisdiction so the family could be reunited in the UK.

(The children's adoption could not automatically be recognised in England and Wales as the Philippines was not listed in the Adoption (Registration of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973. Though subsequently, a 2013 Order, which is not retrospective, recognises adoptions in the Philippines).

For the inherent jurisdiction application to be granted 4 criteria needed to be met.

In her judgment granting the application for inherent jurisdiction recognising the adoptions, Mrs Justice Judd singled out Ruth ‘for the excellent way in which the case was presented and argued’.

Background to the case

The adoptive father, FX, was born and brought up in Wales. The adoptive mother, MX, was born and brought up in the Philippines. They met in the 1980s and married in Wales in 1989 where they lived for the first few years of their married life.

In 2002 they went on holiday to the Philippines and spent time with MX’s brother. They looked after the youngest  of the brother’s 4 children while he and his wife looked for work. At the end of their visit, the brother and his wife suggested that FX and MX adopt their youngest child and his newly born sister.

FX and MX unable to have children themselves, decided to move permanently to the Philippines and to adopt the 2 children. FX was granted permanent residence there in 2006, the same year the adoption was granted in the Philippines.

In 2011, FX had to return to the UK for health reasons and has lived here ever since (visiting the Philippines when he could).

The judgment in FX and MJX and CAFCASS Legal is available on Bailii.