International Children Law Advice

If you or your partner wants 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. In any dispute or issue regarding arrangements for children with an international dimension, JMW has the expertise to help you and your family.

Whatever your situation, phone us on 0800 652 5577 for an informal chat with one of our international children law solicitors. Alternatively, fill in our online enquiry form to arrange a call back at a convenient time.

Finding the Right Solution for Your Children

People are moving around the world more than ever before. As a result, an increasing number of families have connections with more than one territory and may choose to settle in several different countries during the course of their lives. International families can face particular difficulties if the relationship between the parents breaks down.

There are many different aspects to the law on the international movement of children to and from the UK, involving the laws of this country, international and European law (both during the Brexit transition period up to 31 December 2020 and potentially beyond that date). 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 for children to remain in contact with a 'left-behind' parent and extended family 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 non-court dispute resolution methods such as mediation or arbitration. We are committed to pursuing child-focused solutions acceptable to all parties wherever possible. However, we recognise that this is not always feasible and there will be situations where an application to the court becomes necessary.

We have a depth and breadth of experience of cases involving the relocation of children abroad and international contact disputes and understand the need for meticulous preparation to give your case the best possible chance of success.

In cases involving the international movement of children, taking decisive action through the courts can be a matter of the utmost urgency, especially where there is a risk of a child being removed abroad without the proper permissions. We have the experience and resources to act immediately and decisively to secure an urgent situation.

We are able to advise on various matters relating to international children law, including:

  • Relocation of a child overseas
  • International contact with a child
  • International child abduction


  1. My children are moving abroad with their mother. We have agreed that they will continue to see me frequently and contact me on a very regular basis. I am concerned that this agreement will not be facilitated once they are out of the country, Can you help?

    We can. We are experienced at negotiating international child contact arrangements and putting in place court orders both in the UK 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 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 a UK court order in their courts, which will improve your ability to take action in the event that the contact arrangement is not being implemented fully. Not all countries have as strong a legal link with the UK 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 arrangements orders more feasible

  2. My ex-partner is planning to move to the USA with our children. I do not want this to happen. Can I stop this?

    Your ex 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 the move is in their best interests or not.

    If you are worried that your ex 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 secure the situation.

  3. I have heard that Brexit could change the way family law cases are decided in the UK. I am originally from the UK and moved to Spain with my children a few years ago, with the consent of the children's mother, my ex-wife. Could Brexit affect us?

    Some very important elements of English law in relation to family breakdown and parental responsibility derive from European law and will continue to do so during the Brexit transition period, currently set to end on 31 December 2020. It is likely that aspects of European Union law on family matters will be retained once a long-term Brexit agreement is in place but we do not know what form that will take. Nothing is going to change suddenly but family lawyers are monitoring the situation closely.

  4. I am worried that my children's father is going to take them abroad against my wishes. What can I do?

    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 to stop him from going. There are other orders than can be made to support this aim, including restrictions on the issuing of new passports and an order that air and sea ports be alerted to the fact 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.

  5. My husband and I got divorced last year and I want to move back to my home country, with our children, who are four and two. My husband will not agree to this: what can I do?

    As things stand, you cannot take your children to another country without the permission of everyone else who holds parental responsibility - in this case your husband - 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 go regardless.

    Our first task would be to consider with you in detail how you propose the move would work in terms of your employment, support networks, the children's education and how practically they are going to continue to have contact with their father.

    If it is not possible to persuade your husband to agree a way forward that involves you and the children moving overseas, then we would consider how strong your case would be if you decided to apply to the court for permission. If you did decide to apply to the court, we would need to do an even more detailed explanation of your plans and demonstrate to the court that you have robust and practical proposals to enable the children to continue to see their father. The court would then consider carefully whether it is in fact in the children's best interests to give you permission to relocate with them.

Why Choose JMW?

JMW's family team is on hand to advise you in relation to international children law. We are hugely experienced in cases of this type and our excellent track record speaks for itself. We balance being approachable and understanding with a no-nonsense approach that ensures our clients have the very best chance of securing a favourable outcome.

Talk to Us

Find out more about how our international children law solicitors can help you and your family by getting in touch today. Simply call us on 0800 652 5577 or allow us to call you back by completing our online enquiry form.

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