International family dispute cases are increasing

The recently published Annual Report of the Office of the Head of International Family Justice (IFJ) reveals that the number of cross-border family legal disputes where a UK Court intervenes has increased 10-fold in the last decade and more than doubled in two years.

In the report preface, Lord Justice Thorpe, Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales, partially attributes the rise to the growing number of families where parents are of different nationalities and points to the growing numbers of children born to foreign parents. The report documents the growing body of international law and agreements needed to resolve these cases. There are no published figures for the growth in international litigation overall.

Cross-border disputes involving children can be complex to manage and resolve and regularly exceptionally difficult from a practical and emotional perspective for either parent. The IFJ functions as a centre of expertise and a help desk for Courts and legal advisers in UK or abroad who have seen their cases stalled and delayed because 2 countries’ legal systems are involved and when international conventions guaranteeing children’s rights are being ignored by overseas courts.

The report refers to cases in which the IFJ has intervened, for example, where a mother who had taken her children to France to prevent them from being taken into care and the children were found living on a waterlogged caravan site and not attending school. In another case, the IFJ obtained the personal assurance of the Cypriot Attorney General that a woman agreeing to return from Britain to Cyprus with her child would not be prosecuted by the Cypriot authorities.

Please contact our Family Law team for further information and advice on cross-border family disputes –