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Handling international child law demands a nuanced understanding of cross-border legal issues. We manage these complex cases effectively, protecting the rights and best interests of children across jurisdictions.

International Child Law - Stowe Family Law

Our international child law experts are here to help

This year, we have supported families worldwide to resolve issues in countries including Spain, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Bahrain, the United States, Finland, Italy, Ireland and Sri Lanka. We can help with Child Arrangements Orders, child custody and other issues relating to children moving abroad.

Whatever you’re facing, our professional international family lawyers can help you navigate legal proceedings while placing the best interests and wellbeing of your children at the forefront of your case.

We strive to resolve cases quickly to avoid unnecessary stress on your family and we approach each situation with empathy and understanding.

Why choose international family lawyers at Stowe Family Law?

International child law FAQs

International child law FAQs

  • Can children be moved away by a parent with shared custody?

    International family law can be complicated.

    If there is a Child Arrangements Order or Residence Order in force concerning a child, the child can’t be removed from the Court’s jurisdiction (England and Wales) without the consent of those with parental responsibility, or without leave of the Court. If this does happen, it can be classed as  .

    If there is a Child Arrangements Order or Residence Order in favour of one parent, this empowers them to remove the child from the country for no longer than a month, without the need to obtain consent. This is the case if it does not breach the other provisions contained within the order. This enables parents to take their children on holiday.

    The situation with shared residence is less clear, as the children live with both parents. Generally, if the order says that the child resides with both parents then they will both be able to take the child out of England and Wales for up to one month (as long as it does not breach the other provisions contained in the order).

    In circumstances where one parent wishes to move with a child outside of England and Wales and no consent can be obtained from the other parent with parental responsibility, then they would need to apply for Leave to Remove the child from the Country. Equally, the parent who would be left behind could apply for a Prohibited Steps Order.


  • Can my baby’s mother take my children back to her country?

    According to the law in England and Wales, a parent cannot move to another country with their children without the permission of all those with parental responsibility. There are various ways that you can prevent the removal of your children from the country.

    If you suspect that there is a real risk that the child is going to be removed from the jurisdiction (England and Wales) and that the removal is going to occur in the near future, you can apply to the Court for an urgent Prohibited Steps Order. Such an order, if granted, would prevent the other parent from leaving the country with the child without your prior consent.

    However, it should be noted that the other parent could apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order (if it is for a holiday) or Leave to Remove the child from the Country.

    There is a wealth of complex law relating to how such cases should be dealt with by the Court so you should seek legal advice from expert international family lawyers as to the specifics. Generally, the main concern is the child’s welfare.

    Aside from the legal options, there are also practical steps you could take to prevent the child from leaving the country. If you are already in possession of their passports, make sure that this remains the case. To avoid any new passports being applied for or replaced without your knowledge, you should speak to the Passport Office to ensure you are notified if an application is made.

    It is also wise to consider requesting an All Ports Alert if a Prohibited Steps Order has been granted. This alerts border control at all points of departure from the UK with the aim being to prevent a parent leaving the country with the child

  • What can I do if my ex-partner has taken my child abroad without my permission?

    If you’re concerned about the welfare of your child, you should contact the police immediately. In other cases, you should report the crime by calling 101 or by reporting it online. The police will sometimes work with INTERPOL and international police forces to help find your child.

    However, the specific steps taken are dependent on the country your child has been taken to as international family law can be complex and can vary between countries. Member countries of the Hague Convention are bound by an international set of standards that aim to resolve cross-country child abductions swiftly and within the best interests of the child.

    If your child has been taken to a country that operates outside of the convention, then alternative routes should be considered.

    In both cases, our international child law experts can offer professional advice and support and will work with you to resolve your situation with understanding and sensitivity. Call our team today on 0330 191 4938 or request a callback

  • What if my ex refuses to give permission for me to move abroad with my children?

    If someone with parental responsibility refuses to provide consent for their children to move abroad with their other parent, then a Leave to Remove the child from the Country Order needs to be obtained from the Court.

    If you wish to move to a different country with your children and you haven’t got either written permission or a court order, then the move can be classed as illegal.

  • Do my children get a say in whether they want to move abroad with one of their parents?

    If a move abroad is under any dispute, for example, if the Court is involved due to parental disagreement, then children’s views could be taken into consideration, depending on their age and maturity. Ultimately, however, the main consideration is the welfare of the children.

  • My ex refuses to pay child support and lives outside of the UK, what can I do?

    To enable the CMS to both assess and collect maintenance, your ex must be within the jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales or must work for a company that is based in England.

    If you have a child maintenance order in force currently in England, there is a possibility that you could seek to enforce it in some other countries.

    The easiest remedy in this scenario would be for you to arrange with your ex directly. If you are unable to do this, you may be able to make an application to the Courts of England and Wales for maintenance. This is under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989, which has potential enforcement issues. Alternatively, you could consider making an application to courts in the country where your ex lives.

    If you do choose to make an application in a country outside of the UK, you must first seek professional advice from international family lawyers in that jurisdiction.

  • Can an Australian-born child move with her mother who is a British citizen to England to stay for good?

    If the family is currently living in Australia, that country’s law will govern whether relocation is possible. Under English law, relocation out of the UK is only permitted if everyone with parental responsibility for the child/children has given their consent or with specific permission of the Court.
    Ultimately, what persuades the Court is whether the move would be in the best interests of the child. The reason for the move would be considered alongside the effect on the parent who would be left behind.
    Australian international family law may be like UK law. To be sure, you should seek the guidance of an Australian lawyer.

  • Can I take my children on holiday abroad without permission from the other parent?

    This depends on any Child Arrangements Order. If the children reside primarily with one parent, then permission is not typically needed to take them on holiday as long as it’s for one month or less and doesn’t impact any other legally agreed arrangements.

    Should residency be shared, then both parents will generally be able to take their children abroad for a holiday of 28 days or less.

    If you’re travelling abroad with your children and you have different surnames, you should consider taking documents such as birth certificates of the children and any proof of name changes for yourself.

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0330 056 3171

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Submit your details, and we’ll arrange a free, no-obligation callback at a time to suit you. Please note that we cannot offer Legal aid.

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Helen is Managing Partner of the Stowe Family Law Altrincham, Liverpool, Chester and Crewe offices. She practises all areas of family law but her main areas of expertise are resolving private disputes involving children, and advising on advanced financial provision following divorce or dissolution.

Date last reviewed: 21/06/2024


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