Thursday, 1 November 2012
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND PROTECTING CHILDREN: HAGUE UPDATED
Today marks another important date for parents and lawyers who have ever found themselves embroiled in a case involving children and spanning the borders of different countries.
That is because today sees provisions included in a new and wide-ranging Hague Convention come into force in the UK.
Discussions about ‘The Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children’ (or ‘The 1996 Hague Convention’, to give the document its more familiar shorthand title) came to an end 16 years ago.
However, the Government in Westminster only finally ratified the document this year, hence an apparently belated adoption.
As its title suggests, the focus is on protecting children. Even though it may not apply to every single case, the new Convention’s various key strands mean it is likely to have impact on more matters than before.
The fundamental emphasis is on protecting children and clarifying the responsibilities of and relationships between parents and courts in an effort to make the legal resolution of any difficulties which arise “simple and rapid”.
For instance, one provision allows for an order made in one country which has signed up to the Convention and granted contact to a parent to be recognised in another signatory state, so overcoming the previous need to take out so-called ‘mirror orders’, replicating one domestic court’s ruling in another foreign jurisdiction.
The reason for the Convention’s significance is regularly brought home to myself and my colleagues. The breakdown of relationships involving children is common and can lead to disputes about which country those children are to live once their parents separate. The convention will simplify the procedure of maintaining contact with a child who is moving to another country on the separation of its parents.
Given the growing number of couples made up of individuals hailing from different countries, such disagreements can and have become even more complicated.
Whatever the circumstances, one thing is clear: removing a child from the country where it lives without express permission is a criminal offence.
If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to know that there are experts who understand the issues and anxieties involved, and who will make every effort to reunite you and your child.
Our child abduction solicitors have worked successfully on cases around the world, including Europe, Middle East, USA, Australasia and the Far East which have led to children being reunited with their parents.
Pannone is among those law firms recommended by Reunite, the leading UK charity specialising in international parental child abduction, and the association of family lawyers, Resolution.
If your child has been taken out of the UK to a country that has signed up to the Hague Convention or another international agreement, we will take legal steps to return them to you as quickly as possible.
Where no agreement is in place, through our international networks of contacts we will instruct specialist child abduction lawyers in that jurisdiction to fight your case.
We can also help locate a child that has been brought to the UK without your consent through the courts to ensure their safe return.
Swift action is paramount in child abduction cases and if you suspect your child is about to be taken out of the country - please call us immediately on 0800 840 4929 during office hours and 07947 022 312 outside office hours. Alternatively please contact Louise Halford, Child Abduction Solicitor, immediately and we will take action to prevent their removal.