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International Family Law

Our lives and laws are increasingly influenced by the global environment in which we live. In an increasingly globalised world, we can live elsewhere with relative ease assuming we meet visa and entry requirements. This inevitably has a bearing on our personal and family lives.

The scope for international family law is greater than you might imagine. If you have children and are separated from the other parent, you may be concerned about them taking the children abroad or need help securing the children’s return if the other parent does not bring them back as planned. Or you may be considering adopting abroad or confused over the border documentation you will require to visit your family overseas.

Other issues with an international legal dimension include contact arrangements or maintenance agreements across borders. You may have come to live in the UK but still have a court order from your home country that controls contact arrangements between your ex-partner and child, or problems securing maintenance payments from an ex-partner who lives and works abroad.

Also, if you are planning to separate and want to consider what financial rights you may have in respect of property, you may need advice on which country has jurisdiction to deal with the matter.

Frequently asked questions

The following are some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to international family law issues.

The UK is signatory to various International Conventions, so we have to adhere to the terms of Conventions that have been adopted into our domestic law. Now the UK has left the European Union, the EU Regulations which once governed the relationship between Scots family law and family matters in the rest of the EU have been replaced with domestic legislation.

It may be possible to raise action in the Sheriff Court to obtain a maintenance order depending in which country your ex is working in. By international agreement, certain countries allow for the recovery of maintenance, either to seek it or to enforce payment of it. There may also be procedures to allow you to raise action in the country concerned. You should take legal advice about the best way to proceed.

If you are a party to any court action and an order has been made against you then you are expected to adhere to it regardless of where the order originates from.

Procedures exist to register and enforce certain foreign court orders in Scotland and if this happens then effectively that order is treated as though it had been made by the Scottish Court. Our judiciary are expected to respect the orders made by another judiciary.

There may be scope to seek a variation of the order that has been made but you should take legal advice before you attempt to make any changes by yourself.

The enforcement of Scottish court orders out with the UK will be subject to the laws in the jurisdiction in question. It is best to seek legal advice in the foreign jurisdiction in which you are seeking to enforce the order.

How can Thorntons help?

There are many instances for individuals and families where there may be an international legal dimension to their situation. This adds a potential complexity to a case and so early advice is important to make sure you achieve an appropriate outcome for your particular circumstances. Thorntons Family Law team and our Immigration Law Accredited Specialist can advise you on the potential issues, ensure you know your legal position and options and work quickly on your behalf if fast legal action is needed.

At Thorntons Family Law, we offer an initial free no-obligation chat over the phone to outline your options and the possible costs.

Depending on your case and circumstances, the next step is to come into one of our local offices to meet a Family Law Solicitor about your case and the way forward. 

Call us on 03330 430 150 for a chat or contact us to book an appointment.

How much will it cost?

We are always clear to clients about the potential costs of any option and offer a range of payment options.  In some cases we can offer clients a fixed price package.  If we cannot offer a fixed price service, we charge based on the time we spend on your case, including meetings, emails, phone calls and court representations.  Depending on your case and circumstances, you may also need to cover outlays, such as court costs or payments to independent experts. We will set out our fees and likely extra costs for you at the start and keep you informed of any possible changes as your case progresses.

Please note we do not offer Legal Aid for this service.