Some of the most difficult cases arise when parents separate and choose to live in different countries.
The Hague Convention – an international law which all countries in the European Union adopt states that a child who has been removed from their country of residence needs to be returned to that country and the Court of the home country will decide in which country it is best for the child to live.
Countries who sign up to the Hague Convention apply its force diligently. There are limited defences – one of which is the risk of harm to the child if a forced return is ordered. The best defence is that the other parent gave their permission of course.
There is a case before the Supreme Court which involves a mother who took the child from Australia and claims that she will suffer mental harm and post-traumatic stress if she is made to return. The father has offered a whole raft of promises – undertakings to the Court – with regard to paying for her accommodation, maintenance for the child and having no direct contact with her. The case will now be heard by the Supreme Court as the mother is appealing the Court of Appeal’s decision for her to return to Australia with the child.
If a child is abducted to England, the parent who is left behind is eligible for Legal Aid in this country – no mater which country he/she is from. These hearings take place in the High Court, are highly specialised, would involve both solicitors and barristers and perhaps an interpreter.