International family law issues: Navigating cross-border divorces, child abduction and custody disputes

Last Updated on 29th November 2023

When a family breaks down, it is not uncommon for the parties involved to be in different countries. This can lead to added legal complexities which is why you will need the support of an expert family solicitor. They will be able to guide you through the process whilst keeping your best interests at heart.

couple with child argue

Cross-border divorces

You may assume that you need to file for divorce in the country where the marriage took place, but that isn’t always the case. If you have connections to more than one country then you may have options when it comes to jurisdiction. It is best that you consult legal advice to explore all your options.

There are conditions for a divorce that took place abroad to be recognised in the UK. Primarily the divorce must be according to the laws and practices of the country it takes place in.

Child abduction

Child abduction is an incredibly scary incident as one parent will be deprived of their child with them being taken out of the country without consent.

If you are concerned that this may happen then a lawyer will be able to apply for a Child Arrangements Order to prevent your child from being taken out of the country. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you may also be able to apply to have your child made a ward of the courts. This means that the courts become your child’s legal guardian and can decide what is best for them.

Once your child has been abducted by their parent, you do have other options to explore. You should contact the police. If you are unsure where your child is, the police will be able to contact Interpol to help find your child.

You should also check if the country your child is in is part of the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. This convention is an agreement between various countries to help return an abducted child to where they usually live.

couple argue with child upset

Legal remedies and enforcement

Whatever the situation you are facing, you will have options. Your lawyer will be able to discuss them with you and help decide which is the best course of action for you and your family.

If you do end up separating as a family, you may face challenges enacting it. There are, however, things your lawyer will be able to do to ease the process. You may have the option for mediation which can take place online, or in person as longer meetings. This will allow parties involved to talk things through with a trained professional who will aim to keep things on track and civil.