If you find this site useful, please donate to support our work

Get our latest news by email:


Looking for something?


Entries in Cross-border issues (3)


Cross border contact issues raised at Holyrood

Concerns about the issues that arise when separated or separating parents move between the jurisdictions of the United Kingdom were raised during questions to the Justice Minister in Holyrood yesterday (November 16th 2016). 


Kate Forbes (Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch) (SNP) asked Annabelle Ewing "What support the Scottish Government can provide to people from Scotland who are engaged in legal proceedings in jurisdictions outside Scotland.


The Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs (Annabelle Ewing): It is for individuals themselves to raise and defend legal proceedings in other jurisdictions.  In international parental child abduction and child maintenance cases, support is available from the Scottish Government’s central authority team.

Kate Forbes: Engaging in legal proceedings around divorce and custody in another jurisdiction in the United Kingdom can be challenging, especially emotionally and financially, and can cause significant damage to relationships between children and both parents.  How can the Scottish Government better assist parents who are dealing with child contact and residence orders between and across jurisdictions?

Annabelle Ewing: I acknowledge the considerable stress that is caused in cross-border cases, including cases across the UK jurisdictions.  The Scottish Government cannot provide direct assistance to parents who are dealing with child contact and residence cases in other jurisdictions in the UK.  However, we provide financial support to a number of family support organisations, including Families Need Fathers. In addition, we intend to produce a guidance circular for legal practitioners and others in Scotland on the existing provisions that govern the area in the Family Law Act 1986, which applies across the UK and applies to cross-jurisdiction family actions.  We will also continue discussions with our opposite numbers in the UK Ministry of Justice and the Northern Ireland Executive. For example, we have suggested that the relevant form that is used in family cases south of the border could be amended to ask the applicant whether there is a potential Scottish or Northern Irish dimension to the case.  I understand that the Ministry of Justice is amenable to that proposal.

FNF Scotland national manager, Ian Maxwell, commented:
"We are grateful to Kate Forbes for raising this important matter and look forward to this guidance becoming available.  Where there are problems of raising or enforcing contact or residence proceedings across international boundaries there are remedies within the Hague Convention.  But we are regularly approached for advice where one parent takes children from one part of the United Kingdom to another, even when there is a contact order in place.  There ought to be simple, speedy and inexpensive procedures available between the UK jurisdictions but our experience is rather different.  Relationships can be damaged or lost during the time the cases work their way through court and, as so often, the cost can be crippling."

Research underway on Relocation Disputes within England and Wales

A British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford has begun research on relocation disputes within England and Wales. Dr Rob George is looking to "broaden our understanding of the everyday realities of relocation disputes." He will be reviewing relocation cases, at first instance, in England and Wales between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2012.

Dr Rob George is of the view that "Although these cases are increasingly common, very little is known about their everyday reality in England and Wales because almost all the information presently available is based on a tiny sample of cases which reach the Court of Appeal. This lack of information makes it difficult to engage fully with the global debate over the law's regulation of post-separation families in the migration context."

Families Need Fathers Scotland welcomes this move to ascertain the realties of relocation within England and Wales. Hopefully this research shall encourage debate on Intra-UK relocation issues. FNF Scotland recognises that there is a distinct lack of research on relocation within the UK.

More information on Dr Rob George's research is available on Family Law Week.

For anyone affected by a relocation dispute the Custody Minefield web site is an invaluable source of information.  FNF Scotland is now collecting Scottish case studies and judgements to supplement its largely English coverage, and we would like to hear from anyone currently involved in such a case.


Cross border cases wanted

Families Need Fathers Scotland is collecting examples of UK cross-border problems in family law cases. 

We already know of various cases in which children have been moved from one country to another without agreement of the separated father, which have then resulted in court action taking place in the new location rather than the country of residence before the move.

If a similar move is made to a foreign country, then the Hague convention on child abduction should apply, and the case would have to be heard quickly in the country of origin.  It seems easier to get children back from the far side of the world than from England - so long as the destination country subscribes to the Hague convention.

We have the impression that the problem is greater if the move is from Scotland to England than vice versa, but that may just be because we hear more examples of that situation.

Anyone with experience of cross-border problems should contact Ian or John in the Edinburgh office - 0131 557 2440 or scotland@fnf.org.uk.