Sole Responsibility For A Child

Olivia is the daughter of a broken marriage in South Africa.  In that country she has been living happily with her mother, her mother’s new husband, and his own children whose mother died.

All the new family have the right to come to England except Olivia.  So Olivia’s mum applied for her daughter as a dependent child.  

She had first arranged through lawyers a comprehensive agreement with her ex-husband which allowed for Olivia to go with her new family, and to which the local Family Court had given its blessing.

However, the lawyers in their thoroughness had made provision that in the event of Olivia’s mother’s death, her biological father would have a say in what would happen to Olivia then. 

That was enough for the Entry Clearance Officer to refuse Olivia’s application on the grounds that the mother did not hold sole responsibility.

The parents’ efforts to protect Olivia through a proper Court agreement had backfired.  

The Home Office instructions to their staff define a parent with sole responsibility as the one who “provides the child with the majority of financial and emotional support”.  Clearly, Olivia’s mother was the one who did all that.

But the Entry Clearance Officer applied a definition of his own invention with the idea that the mother’s death was a relevant factor now.  More happily, by the time the matter reached the Immigration Judge, the Home Office conceded the stupidity of their position.