The 13 year old girl who’s made British history…Posted: March 15, 2011
Teen Emily Gaffney and mum Debbie told their extraordinary real life story in the MAIL ON SUNDAY newspaper at the weekend.
The case of Emily Gaffney has already made the legal history as it’s one of the first times in the UK that a family court has allowed a child to choose which parent she lives with.
Emily, her mum, Debbie, sister and dad Ian, originally left the UK to live in Canada in search of a better life. But Debbie and Ian’s marriage was already rocky and although Ian loved Canada, Debbie and the girls couldn’t settle. They became terribly homesick for all their friends and family back in Middlesbrough in the UK.
Yet when Debbie suggested to Ian they move back, he refused. Their relationship worsened and eventually one day she left without telling him. She felt incredibly guilty but simply couldn’t stay in Canada any longer.
Six months later, however, the Police turned up on Debbie’s doorstep and under the Hague Convention accused her of abducting her own daughters from Canada. A court case also decreed the girls should be returned to Canada where the issue of which parent they should live with would be decided.
But Emily and Lucy didn’t want to leave the UK to live with their dad. And in an unprecedented step, Emily wrote a letter to the judges in the High Court to say they wanted to stay with their mum. She then went to London and during the appeal met the judges. It was a tearful discussion as Emily was forced to choose between her parents.
In overturning the previous judgement to send the girls back to Canada, the judges praised Emily for her maturity and she and her sister were allowed to stay with their mum in the UK.
Debbie, who was astonished she could ever have been charged with abduction from a country she and her daughters only lived in for 18 months, was incredibly relieved as she feared she’d lose both the girls.
Debbie and her daughters are now happily settled back in the UK and their emotional story appeared in the Mail on Sunday over two pages.
Debbie said: “The story in the Mail on Sunday was simply brilliant. Emily and I were thrilled with both the feature and photos and delighted Alison was able to get our story into such a top newspaper.”
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