Child Abduction & Relocation

If one parent wants to move with the child away from where the other parent lives, it will always be hard for at least the other parent and probably also for the child. When the move is across an international boundary, the issues are going to be even tougher.

Depending on which countries are involved, the law uses different rules to deal with an application for the child to return:

  • If the move is within the UK, the relevant law is the Children Act 1989 in England and Wales and its equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • If the move is between two countries who are members of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, the convention applies.
  • If they are also member states of the EU (except for Denmark), EU Regulation 2201/2003, the “Brussels II” Regulation provides further options.
  • If a child is taken to a country that is not a member of the Hague Convention, that countries’ local laws apply. The UK has achieved some progress on a diplomatic level, e.g. with Pakistan and Egypt to ensure more children are returned.
  • If the child is taken from a non-Hague country to England, English domestic law applies and the child’s welfare is paramount. The decision is made under the Children Act 1989 and the return is not ordered as automatically as in a Hague case.

If you fear that the other parent might take the child out of England, you can take steps to try to prevent this.

If you are the parent who wants to move abroad with the child, you may need permission from the courts if the other parent has parental responsibility and does not agree, or you could face a return order under the Hague Convention or domestic law. You could even commit a criminal offence.

Even in international cases it is possible to come to an overall agreement through mediation. Sometimes it may be necessary to start court proceedings in one country first so that the other party cannot do that in another country. However, litigation in international cases can be costly, in particular if there are legal proceedings in more than one country. Mediation can cut through this and you can start mediation at any time in the proceedings.

For advice on your specific circumstances contact Andrea Woelke at Alternative Family Law: ring us on 020 7407 4007 (+44 20 7407 4007 from abroad) or us (stating your full name, the full name of the other person in your case and your telephone number on which we can call you).

Please note that we do not have a contract to take on cases on legal aid. To check if you may be able to get legal aid please go to this government website and contact a solicitor who has a legal aid contract.

6 May 2016 by Andrea Woelke