We are specialists in Child Abduction. This is a main area of Family Law where expert Court Representation as provided by Bastows is essential.
Child Abduction or removing a child to another country by one parent is an increasingly common event and if you believe it is imminent you must act quickly. It is also the area which can cause the greatest level of heart break. There is a great deal to win or lose and below is an important list of what you need to consider if you are facing such a situation.
Speed – Do Not Delay!
Do not delay. You should instruct an expert in this area immediately especially if you believe a child is about to be taken abroad. We can act immediately in the High Court to prevent a child being taken, but it is far harder and slower to get them back. This is a complex and technical area of law and you need to ensure that your solicitor is suitably experienced. It is a requirement that hearings are dealt with quickly and prompt action may make all the difference.
The longer the delay the more likely a defence can be raised that the child is settled in their new country. The longer a child has lived in their new environment the more reluctant the court will be to force a change on the child. Also, if you do not act quickly as the left behind parent then a defence of acquiescence opens up for the other side
Evidence in Hague Convention Cases
Facts are extremely important. Hague Convention cases are decided on the facts. A lot of hard work can be required gathering evidence. It is essential to focus on gaining every possible document to support your case; even statements from neighbours can help, for example to show that your ex-partner was settled in your country with an intention to remain.
We will often ask you to supply a diary of the whole relationship, even matters which seem irrelevant can be important to support your case. Do not presume that some matters are indisputable, some people even deny the date and place of marriage.
It is better to amass too much evidence rather than insufficient. There is normally only one chance to get the result you need so intense preparation is essential. It is important to remember that your ex-partner will lie, twist the truth and do anything they consider necessary to get the result they want. Such cases are very high stakes and an abduction case would not have arisen if one party was not prepared to be dishonest.
We have had cases where so much evidence has been amassed the other side has backed down before the hearing.
Present the Legal Case
Assist the Court to find in your favour by presenting a robust, detailed legal argument; cases to support your own case are essential.
The court will need to determine “habitual residence”. Each country may have a different interpretation of what that means.
The issues before the court are narrow – which country should hear the application for residence based on the child’s country of habitual residence.
An application to return a child does not mean that the child will live with the left behind parent. It means that the child will return to that country and the courts of that country will decide where the child will live. Clearly the expectation is that succeeding in a Hague Convention Application will give an advantage at the later hearing.
It is important to remember that the person opposing the return will seek to broaden the issues and can convince the court that it is not in the child’s best interest to return based on one of the defences.
Expert Legal Assistance
More than any other area of Family Law legal expertise is essential. Our Child Abduction Solicitors will ensure you are expertly represented and will deal with your application swiftly and ensure we do our utmost to protect and advance your interests.