Natural disaster and visiting and accommodation right

Family Law
Source: Court of Appeal of Toulouse, May 11th 2015, n° 14/03146, n° 15/458


It is an atypical decision rendered, following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima with regards to the accommodation right of a child.
In this law case, where the context is really peculiar, it was about a couple who had met in Japan and had got married in Toulouse in February 2007, shortly before their daughter's birth. In 2008, they had decided to go back to live in Japan, nevertheless following the nuclear accident in Fukushima in 2011, they decided to leave Japan.
In 2012, the husband filed a divorce petition, pronounced by a judgement dated May 7th 2014. The ex-wife went back to leave in Japan, but the parental authority of the daughter was still exercised jointly.
The habitual residence was set with her father, but the mother benefited from a visiting right to be determined amicably or, if not, to be planned in the region Midi-Pyrénées, the first half of school holidays on even-numbered years, and the second half, on odd-numbered years, and the totality of the end-of-year holidays. The mother also had to pay an allowance for the maintenance and education of the child.
The mother partially appealed of this decision, especially in order to receive her daughter in Japan, at her own place, during school holidays.
The father refused such idea because of the major nuclear accident which happened in Fukushima.
The question was therefore to know if a nuclear disaster could have an incidence on the visiting and accommodation right of a mother living in a place close to the place of the sinister.
The Court of Appeal of Toulouse placed the child's interest and the family bonding with the mother's parents, beyond the disaster in order to allow her to receive her daughter at her Japanese place, providing that she was not at risk.
Indeed, the judges based their decision on elements obtained on the French Minister of Foreign Affairs' website, which showed that the place where the child was to be received was not subject to specific restrictions, as only the zone close to the reactors was potentially dangerous.