Means of control

Means of control

In the recent decision of ZM v AM [2014] EWHC 2110 (Fam)  the court recognised that immigration status, or lack thereof, can be used to wrongly control a spouse and directed that the judgment in that case be disclosed to the UK Border Agency.


In ZM v AM  the mother’s immigration status was dependent on the father: she initially had a spouse’s visa, and some time after that expired, she acquired another two years' leave to remain, this however expired in May 2011. The couple had a nine year old son with serious disabilities. Following the breakdown of the parties’ marriage the father had unilaterally obtained a residence order in respect of the parties’ child, somehow avoiding the mother participating in the proceedings (which was a matter of concern in itself). The mother was then said to have been tricked by her husband into returning to Pakistan, he had said to his wife that her mother was ill, and that the whole family had to travel. The mother travelled to Pakistan in July 2011, without having any immigration status; thus she was sent without any right to re-enter the United Kingdom. The mother was separated from her son and unable to attend court for the wardship proceedings in this jurisdiction (which she had commenced) due to her not being able to obtain entry clearance to come back to England; fortunately she was able to give evidence via a video link.


The court found the mother to be an honest witness and accepted her account. The judge rejected the father’s evidence.  The court made an order for:

  • the residence order in favour of the father to be discharged
  • the child to remain a ward of the High Court
  • the father’s passport to remain in the possession of the

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