January 15 , 2015
B.C. court rules chef’s estranged wife was wrong to move their child from London to Coquitlam.
Spanish celebrity chef Omar Allibhoy has won a child custody battle in B.C. Supreme Court, which ruled his estranged wife violated international child abduction laws when she brought their toddler to live in B.C.
Allibhoy, 30, is the part-owner of two successful London restaurants called Tapas Revolution, and has been dubbed the “Antonio Banderas of cooking” by Gordon Ramsay.
He met his former wife Marsha Tanya Tabalujan, a 34-year-old Canadian-Indonesian, while she was working in the hospitality industry in London in 2005.
They married in 2009, and while they were still together, Tabalujan moved back to her parents’ home in Coquitlam, B.C. to give birth to their son in 2013.
The next year the couple moved into their new apartment in London and began raising their son.
Relationship breaks down
But as the relationship began to break down, the couple agreed to return the boy to Canada to live with Tabalujan’s parents while they worked on their relationship and careers in London.
Shortly afterwards, the couple separated and Tabalujan returned to Canada and cancelled plans to have their son return to London. Both parties then launched legal actions in B.C. Supreme Court.
In her petition Tabalujan alleged Allibhoy “used cocaine recreationally,” and that would put the child at “grave risk.”
But Allibhoy responded in his petition that Tabalujan also used cocaine recreationally.
In his ruling Justice Peter Voith noted that while neither of them denied the claims of cocaine use, a drug test of Allibhoy’s hair concluded he had not used in the past three months, and the child would not be in harm’s way if returned to live in London.
In the end the judge ruled that under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a parent cannot unilaterally change the habitual residence of a child.
He ordered that their son must be returned to London, where the issue of custody could be settled by British courts.
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