The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the child abduction Hague Convention”) is a treaty which aims to protect children from the harmful effects of international wrongful removal or retention i.e. abduction, and to establish procedures for their prompt return.
Steadily over the years, the contracting states to the child abduction Hague Convention has grown. This clearly is a positive step to help increase the prospects of more and more parents to recover their children in these sad situations.
The child abduction Hague Convention has proved to be an important treaty to assist parents. It provides a focused mechanism that parents can follow in a time of desperation when they are separated from their children, often separated suddenly without any warning or obvious alarm bells. It is for this reason that it is welcome news that the child abduction Hague Convention will be in force between the UK and seven more countries this summer.
From 1 July 2016 the child abduction Hague Convention will be in force between the UK and the following seven additional countries:
Therefore parents whose children have been abducted to or from these seven countries will now be able to follow the procedure that the child abduction Hague Convention provides to be reunited with their children. It is also worth remembering that this Convention has a dual purpose and provides a mechanism for parents to secure “access” (as it is referred to in the Convention) with their children. This is a useful additional feature of the child abduction Hague Convention as in England and Wales, parents using the Convention to secure access to their children will be granted legal aid to help pay for their legal fees subject to their financial situation and the factual circumstances of their case.
Andorra, Seychelles and Singapore are interesting new additions given that they are not signatories to the 1996 Hague Convention. Also Brussels II Revised is not applicable to Andorra, Seychelles or Singapore owing to them not being EU states. Both the 1996 Hague Convention and Brussels II Revised provide an alternative or additional recourse to the child abduction Hague Convention to assist in child abduction situations. Therefore, in the case of Andorra, Seychelles and Singapore, the child abduction Hague Convention will provide the only international mechanism to recover abducted children once it is in force with the UK from 1 July 2016.
The Neustadt v Neustadt (Child Abduction)  EWHC 4307 case was the first between the UK and Russia in which the 1996 Hague Convention was successfully utilised to recover children who had been wrongfully retained in Russia following a holiday. This was shortly after the 1996 Hague Convention came into force between the UK and Russia. This therefore provides useful reassurance as to the implementation of the child abduction Hague Convention in Russia from 1 July 2016.
Child abduction is a highly specialist area of family law and TV Edwards LLP are one of only a limited number of law firms in England and Wales who have the requisite expertise to conduct these cases. TV Edwards LLP are on the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit’s panel of specialist child abduction lawyers. Always seek specialist advice so that you have the best possible chance of success at an undoubtedly distressing time and are guided properly through what can be a complex process. If you are involved in a child abduction or other international children law situation then please contact Mandeep Gill or another of our specialist team on +44(0)203 440 8000 or email A_FamilyReferrals@tvedwards.com