International family law disputes on the increase

10th March 2015 by


In May 2013 it was reported that cross-border family law disputes were increasing. The number of cases involving partners and spouses from different international jurisdictions had increased tenfold in the previous decade, and in the two years immediately prior to publication the number of cases had doubled.

The Office of the Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales reported that in 2007 it dealt with three new cases, in 2008 the figure rose to 65, and in 2012 253 cases were registered.

Family lawyers in London, and across the country, saw more and more international cases in the years leading up to 2013, and globalisation along with a boom in international marriages were contributed to an increase in international family law disputes. The cases often involved international child abduction after divorce and separation and were a growing concern for the lawyers and their clients across the UK.

Who looks after my rights in international family law disputes involving children

Under the Hague Convention each signatory country must have a central administrative body responsible for overseeing the operation of the Convention in that country. In England and Wales the Lord Chancellor is the Central Authority and the duties, under the Convention, are delegated to the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU).

The ICACU website has lots of information for family law solicitors and their clients who are involved in international family law disputes involving children and for parents bringing their children into the UK from abroad.

When should I be seeking advice?

If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of the following questions, you should speak to a specialist family lawyer as soon as possible or contact the ICACU.

  • Has your child been taken out of the country against your wishes?
  • Is your child being kept out of the country without your consent?
  • Are you concerned that your child will be taken out of the country against your wishes?
  • Are you being denied contact with your child who is out of the country?
  • Have you entered the UK from abroad with your child?

For parents who fear their children are at risk of international abduction there are number of measures which can be put in place to mitigate the chances of a parent exiting the country unlawfully with children, however, the authorities must be contacted as quickly as possible for there to be a higher chance of success.

Healys family law solicitors in London and Brighton can help

If you need legal help and advice regarding international child abduction, the family law team at Healys LLP is here to help.

Plus, if you need expert legal advice as a result of the breakdown of an international marriage, our divorce solicitors can help.

To talk to us in complete confidence, please call our offices in London or Brighton and we will be able to advise you quickly and expertly on the best course of action for your particular circumstances.