British Court Finds Inherent Right Not to Live in France

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Those who find the French somewhat irritating, which is everyone, will be glad to know you cannot be forced to live in France if you don’t want to.  At least if you are British.

This week a panel of three senior British judges ruled that two boys, ages 11 and 16, could not be forced to return to France with their mother, whose marriage to the British father was on the rocks.  (The article is not clear as to whether the two had actually been divorced.)  She had taken the boys to France with her, but foolishly brought them back for a visit.  They refused to leave again.

The woman took the case to court, saying she had the right to determine where the boys would live.  But the panel ruled that the boys, having asserted their "Britishness," "had an inherent right to refuse to live in France." 

I once went to a performance of "Henry V" at the Globe Theatre in London.  Whenever a French character appeared on stage, the audience booed.  It took me a second to realize exactly why they were booing and from then on I, too, booed at the French. You can see that as an example of the continuing strength of the Anglo-American relationship and our shared frustration with our sometimes difficult ally, or as evidence that they sell alcohol at the Globe Theatre.  It’s probably a little of both.

Anyway, the chief judge in the custody case described it as an "exceptional" case.  Actually, he described it as "not just exceptional but very exceptional," although I think either something is exceptional or it isn’t.  (Can something be "mildly exceptional"?  I don’t know.)  The judge said that not only did the boys have a right not to live in France, it was clear that they did not want to.  In England, they apparently told him, they could "walk to school, could have their own key and would not have to do as much homework," which suggests that you don’t have to make much of a showing to a British court in order to successfully not live in France.  The judge stated that he had "rarely, if ever, heard such strongly expressed views by children," which suggests that he doesn’t have children.

Link: Yahoo! News