1. It’s the summer holidays and either you or the children’s other parent are planning to take them home to visit their grandparents. But if home is abroad, there could be more to worry about than just queues at the airport. Is there a risk of child abduction?
2. Life has never been more complicated for families where one or both parents are from another EU country. Are you both planning to stay in the UK, or are you both planning to leave? It’s a difficult and painful decision to make.
3. Perhaps you want to stay but the other parent doesn’t? The risk is the children will be taken abroad without proper consent, or won’t be returned from their summer holidays.
4. If one of you wants to take the children abroad – even for just a holiday – this must either be with consent of the other parent or a court order. Otherwise it will be a case of child abduction, an imprisonable offence. This also applies if there is a child arrangement order and they are taken abroad without consent for more than twenty eight days.
5. If parents cannot agree about taking the children on holiday abroad, or where the children are to live, it is vital to take advice from a solicitor experienced in international family law. Perhaps you will be able to reach an agreement with the help of mediation or collaborative law.
What Happens In The Case of Child Abduction?
7. What happens if the children are either abducted to, or retained after a holiday in, another EU country? All EU member states are signed up to the Hague Convention. An application can be made for a court order they be returned.
8. Where will the court case be heard? EU rules say it’s the country where the children generally live but when we leave the EU we will lose this rule. Will a court order made in the UK be enforceable in other EU countries? Yes, but after we leave the EU we will also lose this rule.
9. The Government must incorporate these EU rules (and others which tighten up the Hague Convention), and make fresh agreements with the other twenty seven EU countries in order to make the rules reciprocal. Otherwise the effectiveness of our laws against child abduction will be undermined. To put it simply, children might not be returned.
10. After we leave the EU it will still be possible to pursue child abduction cases under the Hague Convention but unless the Government acts before we leave, life for international families in this country is set to become increasingly difficult and uncertain.
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The topics covered in this blog post are complex and are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog might have application to you, you should seek expert legal advice.
image by Sara&Joachim&Mebe on Wikimedia