International Family Law
If you or your partner want to take your child to a different country, whether on holiday or to live, we can provide rapid, specialist advice. In the event of an abduction or other emergency, we can help you take effective steps to protect your children.
Our international child law solicitors have vast, real-world experience in advising families on the differences between laws in the UK and those in a foreign country, including in an emergency.
How JMW Can Help
There are many different aspects to the law on the international movement of children to and from England and Wales, with factors to consider in domestic law as well as international (or European) law. There are also many circumstances in which it is wise to obtain legal advice. A parent may wish to return to their home country with their child, possibly against the other parent's wishes. Alternatively, after the breakup of a relationship, a parent may wish to seek a new life overseas with their children, perhaps with a new partner and their family.
Even where there is no obvious conflict between separated parents, it can be vital to ensure that arrangements are made for children to remain in contact with a 'left-behind' parent and extended family. These arrangements must have a solid legal foundation that will be recognised by the legal systems of all relevant countries.
In many cases, such issues can be resolved through negotiation and/or alternative dispute resolution methods - such as mediation or arbitration - that avoid the need to go to court. We are committed to pursuing child-focused solutions. Unfortunately, it is not always feasible to resolve such issues without the intervention of the courts and there will be situations where an application becomes necessary. We can support you no matter how your case plays out, in order to pursue the best outcome for you and your children.
We have a depth and breadth of experience with international family law issues, including cases involving the relocation of children abroad, disputed international travel with children and international contact disputes. We understand the need for meticulous preparation to give your case the best possible chance of success.
Why Choose JMW?
Recognised by the Legal 500 as one of the top law firms in the country, JMW is committed to helping people navigate the complexities of international child law. Our international family law experts have a strong understanding of the sensitive nature of cases involving the relocation of children, and act accordingly when dealing with clients who may be stressed and upset. We can provide specialist legal advice and representation tailored to your needs, and do so in a way that alleviates much of the responsibility from you, instead of putting it on us.
We will break down and explain any confusing processes and legal jargon in an easy-to-understand manner, and will maintain transparency with you throughout the case.
We have helped clients who are struggling with all sorts of issues, and can assess those that come with situations involving armed conflict, disabled children, international child abduction and much more.
FAQs About International Family Solicitor Services
How do I ensure that the arrangements with my children are adhered to when they move abroad?
We are experienced at negotiating international child contact arrangements and putting in place court orders in England, Wales and abroad, to ensure that contact plans are adhered to. A court order can be put in place by agreement between you and your former partner. Just because the court is involved, this does not necessarily mean that you are in conflict and you can work together to get the court to ratify an agreed arrangement.
Depending on which other country is involved, it is often possible to register an English/Welsh court order in their courts, which will improve your ability to take action in the event that any contact arrangements are not fully implemented.
Not all countries have as strong a legal link with England and Wales as others, but an increasing number of nations are signing up to international conventions on family law to make the cross-border enforcement of child arrangement orders more feasible.
Can an international child custody lawyer help to prevent a former partner from moving abroad with our children?
Legally, your ex-partner cannot remove the children from the country without your permission or that of the court. We would need to undertake a careful analysis of your ex's plans for the move before deciding whether or not you had a strong case to oppose any application to the court. Ultimately, the court will look at whether or not the move is in the child or children’s best interests.
If you are worried that your ex-partner may take the children without permission, you need to take urgent legal advice to see if there are any legal and practical steps you can and should take to prevent this.
I am worried that my former partner is going to take our children abroad against my wishes. How can JMW’s international children solicitors help?
Depending on how real and imminent the threat is, you may need to inform the police and apply to the court on an emergency basis to get a prohibited steps order or a port alert to prevent departure. There are other orders that can be made to support this aim, including restrictions on the issuing of new passports and an order that airports and seaports be alerted that your children are at risk of abduction.
As a first step, you should ensure that your children's passports are stored somewhere secure. Whatever happens, you should not delay in taking legal advice as it is far easier to stop children from leaving the country than it is to secure their return after they have gone. We have helped to resolve many international cases involving children and have the expertise to deal with your case swiftly and effectively.
What can I do if my former partner will not let me move back to my home country with our children?
As things stand, you cannot take your children to another country without the permission of everyone else who holds parental responsibility or, failing that, the permission of the court. Without those permissions, you could be committing a criminal offence of child abduction if you were to take your children abroad.
Our first task would be to consider how you propose the move would work in terms of your employment, support networks, and the children's education. This requires a detailed conversation, and you will also need a practical answer to how the children will continue to have contact with their other parent.
If it is not possible to persuade the other parent to agree to you and the children moving, then we would consider how strong your case would be if you decided to apply to the court for permission.
If you decided to apply to the court, we would need to provide a detailed explanation of your plans and demonstrate that you have robust and practical proposals to enable the children to continue to see their other parent. The court would then consider carefully whether it is in the children's best interests to relocate, before deciding whether or not to grant you permission.