Child abduction problems after Brexit

family law

The return of children who have been abducted  into other European countries by alienated parents could become significantly more difficult following Britain’s exit from the European Union, peers have warned.

Currently the return of children in such circumstances is facilitated by reciprocal recognition of legal orders under EU law,with the child’s country of habitual residence the principal factor.

But post-Brexit, families face “real hardship” and a “loss of certainty ” according to the EU Justice Sub-Committee in the House of Lords. They may be faced with the prospect of attempting to secure the return of children across 27 different jurisdictions (i.e all the remaining member states) the Committee claims.

Their report states:

“It is clear that significant problems will arise for UK citizens …To walk away from these regulations without putting alternatives in place would seriously undermine the family law rights of UK citizens and would, ultimately, be an act of self-harm.”

The committee’s report is entitled Brexit: justice for families, individuals and businesses? Read it here.

Photo of the European Parliament building in Strasbourg, France by jeffowenphotos via Flickr

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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2 comments

Alan Finlayson - March 20, 2017 at 8:15pm

“Currently the return of children in such circumstances is facilitated by reciprocal recognition of legal orders under EU law,with the child’s country of habitual residence the principal factor”

Well, not actually true. Brussels II introduced, inter alia, provisions to facilitate the return of children wrongly removed from their habitual place of residence. Before Brussels II (and Bis) we relied on the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Post Brexit all we simply need to do is revert to the use of that convention and any EU countries which were formerly a party to that reciprocal arrangement merely needs to agree to re-instate those former provisions. EU countries not party to the Hague Convention will need to apply for reciprocal participation if it is in their intersts to do so.

Nick Thomas-Webster - March 21, 2017 at 3:00am

Surely child abduction – a bit graphic for a parent who wants to be with their child but us Brits love to make dramas, is covered under International Laws and treaties and not just the EU. There are certain parts of the EU treaty that could still be embodied reciprocally into UK Law such as extradition and child abduction but I don’t see the necessity of open borders, immigrant floods and transferred legislature as being the only way to secure such.

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