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International Children Disputes on the Increase

Posted on Wednesday, 1st May 2013 by

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There has been a four fold increase in the number of international family disputes since 2008 reported by Lord Justice Thorpe, who is the specialist Judge to which these matters are reported.

One obvious reason for this has been the ever increasing number of international families who are subject not only to the pressures that all families find but the additional difficulties of differences in culture and background, which can put an additional strain on relationships.  Indeed parties from international or very different ethnic or cultural backgrounds do have a slightly greater risk of divorce and separation than those who come from the same Country and cultural/religious roots.

The second reason is that, fortunately, Judges and indeed practitioners are more alive now to the remedies that are available in international disputes and thus the fact that the number being referred to the Courts has increased may largely reflect a greater awareness that there is something that can be done.  The use of the Hague Convention for the return of children from signatory Countries is a very fast and usually successful procedure, although there are exceptions to its use.  Additionally, if there is a threat of abduction, much can be done within the United Kingdom to prevent the removal in the first place, which is quicker and cheaper of course than having to go to Court to have a child returned from a foreign Country.   This is, as perhaps one can imagine, a specialised area but one with which we do deal and the essence always is on quick reactions to developing situations.

An interesting demographic of recent cases reflecting perhaps a change in the United Kingdoms’ population make-up is that Poland has now become one of the top Countries for international disputes, followed closely by Pakistan and Spain.

It has to be acknowledged that, particularly if both parties to the marriage originate from another Country and are living in the United Kingdom, if that marriage breaks down it is very tempting, particularly for the party with the children, to consider returning to their old Country, where they may have  a more substantial and long standing family support group. They can find themselves in severe difficulty if the children have been living in the United Kingdom for any substantial period of time and have effectively become anglisised/UK Citizens . It is easy for parents to forget that although they may be from another  Country, their children are not and separating parents can therefore have additional difficulties when their route back to the old Country is blocked or they are forced to make a decision about staying in the United Kingdom with their children or leaving to “go home” without them.


Parents who might be considering returning to their Country of origin and who believe that their spouse might oppose such a move need to take legal advice at a very early stage. You can contact us for a free 30 minute consultation at any of our offices here

Faye Remnant is part of our Family Law team based in Loughborough; our Solicitors in Loughborough are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Loughborough please contact us.

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The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.

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