Posted on Jul 20, 2012 in Family Law by Amanda Wilson
Lawyers no longer just have to contend with warring couples arguing over who the children should live with. A new trend is emerging that sees parents fighting over what country their offspring should live in.
Amanda Wilson, Family Law Specialist at Thorntons, has seen this international issue increase over the last couple of years.
She said: “More and more we are finding that parents who are separating are not just disagreeing about which parent the children should live with, but also what country they should reside in – particularly in cases where one parent is a national of another country. This issue is becoming more common, but it’s a difficult one to resolve.
“Nowadays, people tend to move around to attend university and for work purposes. Additionally, more people are meeting online than ever before. These relationships can take people to different parts of the country or even across the world.
“There Trans-Atlantic relationships mean there is more scope for separation issues to happen in what was previously a tight family unit.
“In England, the courts place a lot of focus on the parent who wants to move. It is believed that if an individual wants to leave the country then they should be allowed to do so as being forced to remain could have a devastating impact on their wellbeing - which in turn has a knock-on effect regarding the children’s welfare.
“Scottish courts were going down a similar route, until a recent case clarified the country’s legal position which is, and should always be, what is in the best interest for the children.”
In Scotland, the responsibility is on the parent who wishes to move to undertake research into the relocation. This includes providing evidence on where the children will go to school, how they will deal with the transition and if there is any language or cultural barriers.
There are also issues regarding on-going contact between the children and the parent choosing to remain. If contact is virtually impossible because of location, work commitments or financial reasons, then these factors all have to be considered before the court allows the move abroad to happen.
Amanda added: “In a lot of these cases there is no middle ground – it is a straight yes or no decision.
“There are one off cases where mum or dad decide to take the children without the other parent’s consent. The Hague Convention, which most UN-recognised countries have signed up to, means that if children are taken abroad without the other parent’s consent, then the court in that country will co-operate with the Scottish system to have the children returned. The level of co-operation differs depending on the country involved. The Hague Convention doesn’t however mean that things happen quickly and the process can be extremely prolonged causing substantial stress and worry for the affected parent whether it be mother or father.”
Amanda Wilson is a specialist Family Law Solicitor. If you have further questions about separation or divorce please contact Amanda - firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01382 229111.