UK Mother Fights Legal Battle for Return of Daughter ‘Trapped’ in Dubai with Co-Parenting Partner

In a heart-wrenching turn of events, Natalie Kennedy, a 43-year-old mother from Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, reveals the distressing situation surrounding her five-year-old daughter, Alice.

The child was allegedly ‘kidnapped’ by Philip Thomas, her co-parenting partner whom she met on an unregulated co-parenting website.

The unfolding drama has resulted in court orders, a transcontinental escape, and now, a suspended jail sentence hanging over Thomas’s head.


Natalie Kennedy, then 36, had concerns about her biological clock when she connected with Philip Thomas, an 11-years-older IT consultant, on an unregulated co-parenting platform.

The relationship, initially formed to navigate co-parenting responsibilities, took a sinister turn when Thomas reportedly defied court orders, refusing to return their daughter Alice to the UK.

The situation escalated when, against court agreements, Thomas took Alice to Dubai on August 21, following a two-week holiday in the United States.

Legal Battle and Defiance:

Family Court judges have categorized the case as ‘child abduction,’ issuing four separate orders for Thomas to bring Alice home.

Despite the looming threats of fines, imprisonment, and asset seizure, Thomas has continuously ignored the court’s directives.

Natalie Kennedy claims that Thomas cites fear of consequences and asserts that his fatherly rights have been neglected as reasons for his non-compliance.

Thomas’s Advocacy and Emotional Toll:

In a surprising twist, Philip Thomas has taken to advocacy, establishing the FairParentingUK website and podcast to campaign for reforms in the UK’s family court system.

Meanwhile, Natalie Kennedy reveals the emotional toll on her daughter, who she claims is ‘trapped in hotel rooms’ while Thomas allegedly uses Alice as leverage to coerce Kennedy into meeting his demands.

Legal Developments:

Facing a suspended one-year jail sentence until March 7, Thomas has been granted a final opportunity to return to the UK with Alice.

Mr. Justice Cusworth emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating, ‘Playing with Alice as a pawn is not in her best interests,’ and urged Thomas to bring the child back to the UK.

Edward Bennett, representing Thomas, conveyed his client’s willingness to return in March if progress is made during mediation.


The international custody battle continues, with a mother’s plea for her daughter’s return echoing through courtrooms and media. As the March deadline looms, the fate of Alice and the resolution of this complex co-parenting saga hang in the balance.

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