International Children, Relocation and Abduction

Call 0345 872 6666

International Children, Relocation and Abduction

Relocation or Returning Home

The international movement of children, where parents have separated or are considering moving (together or separately) to another country, requires expert legal advice.

A child whose centre of activities (Habitual Residence) is in England and Wales, cannot be moved to live permanently in another country without both parents agreeing or the permission of a court in England and Wales.

Divorce, Separation or Remarriage can lead to a wish by one parent to return to their country of origin, the country of a new partner or the place of a new work opportunity.

Where there is an agreement between the parents for such a move, we have significant experience in advising on the structuring and protection of the arrangements which will support the move. We work with lawyers and the therapeutic community across the world to ensure that the children who are moving retain a strong physical and emotional link to both parents, regardless of distance.

Where parents do not agree to children moving country, we have decades of experience in representing both the parent wishing to stay and the one that wants to leave.

Planning is everything and it is one of those occasions when specialist legal advice really should be taken before any actions are taken or words spoken on the subject.

Moving to England

We advise parents who are either wishing to return to England with their children from abroad or coming here for work or other economic reasons.

The movement of children internationally without the consent of the other parent is, on the face of it, abduction. Abducted children can be returned to their country of origin rapidly where that country is also a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Where the children come from a country which has not signed this treaty, there is a fast track, welfare based court process which considers all of the circumstances connected to the move.

Parents moving to this country from abroad for work or other economic reasons and those who advise them, should be aware that within a very short period of time, potentially days, children can become Habitually Resident in England and Wales. Once a child has established Habitual Residence, the rules described above (Relocating or Returning Home) apply.


As explained earlier, removing a child from the country where it has it’s centre of activities (Habitual Residence) is, on the face of it an abduction.

Many countries are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. England and Wales takes a strict approach to the obligations of this treaty, others are more relaxed.

The movement of children between countries without consent or permission, where the country they are going to or coming from is not a party to the Hague Convention, poses unique challenges for parents, lawyers and judges.

Early, specialist, internationally connected advice is essential where there has been or there is the risk of an abduction. We have wide experience advising parents on how to avoid and respond to an abduction of their children.


Advising and representing parents in England from allegations of abduction from:

  • Australia
  • France
  • USA
  • UAE

Child Arrangements

Most separating families do not need help when agreeing what is in the future best interests of their children post separation. Many international families do however need advice on understanding and tackling the comparative differences of law and expectation between their country of origin and England and Wales.

For those who cannot agree, we work creatively to find solutions and compromise, working extensively with lawyers across the world.


We have decades of experience in advising parents and their advisors about the protective measures that can be taken, or agreements reached, to avoid complex family litigation if a move abroad or to England turns out to be unsuccessful for one parent.

Advising and representing parents in international relocation proceedings involving the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Bahrain
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark 
  • France 
  • Spain 
  • Japan 
  • Monaco 
  • South Africa
  • Tunisia 
  • USA 
  • UAE

Re B (Children)[2015] EWCA 1302

We do however have wide experience working with difficult situations, particularly where parents have issues with addiction and or personality disorders. We have strong links to the addiction industry and have decades of experience supporting the victims of emotional and physical abuse, often working in tandem with the lawyers across the world.

Michael Rowlands is a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers and has been representing international families for over 30 years with a particular connection with The UAE, MENA Region, North America, Japan, Switzerland and Monaco.

Further Information

Expatriate Family Law
Dubai and the Gulf
International Divorce
International Divorce Financial Settlements
International Post and Prenuptial Agreements Solicitors

Talk to us

If you require further information or advice from our team of expert family lawyers, please contact a member of our team or call us on 0345 872 6666. Alternatively you can complete our online enquiry form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.