If I got married abroad, do I have to get divorced in the same country?

No. English family courts can deal with marriages which took place anywhere in the world as long as there is sufficient connection with England or Wales. Factors that will be considered include which countries you and your spouse have been resident, your nationalities and your legal domicile.

If I got married in England, but I no longer live there, does my divorce have to be in England?

No. The English family courts can deal with your divorce if there is still sufficient connection to this country, but the courts of other countries may also be able to deal with the divorce and related financial matters.

How do I decide where to issue family court proceedings?

First, you will need to establish in which countries proceedings could be issued. You should then consider the likely outcomes if proceedings took place in that country, including the timetable and procedure as well as the likely financial settlement, any arrangements for children, legal costs and whether the divorce and related agreements will be recognised in the various countries with which you have connections.

Each jurisdiction has its own approach to the division of property and other assets including pensions and trusts, as well as different attitudes towards maintenance and children.

You should consider the whole picture before deciding which jurisdiction is right for you.

Can divorce proceedings started in one country be transferred to another?

Yes, the English court can and will transfer the entire, or part of, proceedings to another country if that country is better placed to deal with the issues of the case. However, it is not possible to transfer divorce proceedings within the European Union, so it is important to take fast legal action to ensure your divorce begins in the jurisdiction most favourable to you.

Speed is of the essence when forum shopping, but it is equally important to ensure you have strong jurisdictional grounds as the consequences of not doing so can be very expensive.

Legal Advice

For further advice, arrange a confidential meeting with one of our international child custody lawyers. Call us on +44 (0)20 7993 2936 or click here to complete a contact form.

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I am a British national and I was married abroad, will my marriage be recognised in England and Wales?

Your marriage or civil partnership will be recognised as long as you followed the law of the country in which you were married and your legal union would have been allowed in the UK.

I am a foreign national and was married abroad, will my marriage be recognised in England Wales?

If the marriage complied with the law of the country in which it took place and both spouses had the legal capacity to marry it is very likely. English policy is to recognise genuine foreign marriages wherever possible, regardless of whether the marriage would be allowed here, such as polygamous marriage which is not legal in this country.

If I got married abroad, do I have to get divorced in the same country?

No. English family courts can deal with marriages which took place anywhere in the world as long as there is sufficient connection with England or Wales. Factors that will be considered include which countries you and your spouse have been resident, your nationalities and your legal domicile.

I was divorced abroad, will my divorce be recognised in England and Wales?

If the divorce took place in the EU it will be recognised in England and Wales. The recognition of foreign divorces outside of the EU is more complex and will depend on factors such as how the divorce was obtained and your connection with that country at the time.

Can I bring an application for a financial order to the English court following a foreign divorce?

This will depend on the circumstances of your individual case. In some cases, the court can act as if the divorce itself took place in England and make full financial orders, in other cases the court will only deal with specific English assets, such as a pension or property.

Legal Advice

For further advice, arrange a confidential meeting with one of our international family lawyers. Call us on +44 (0)20 7993 2936 or click here to complete a contact form.

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Can I enforce my English Financial Order for maintenance abroad?

This is very likely. England and Wales has reciprocal arrangements with countries around the world to enforce financial orders which are required to meet a person’s needs, such as child and spousal maintenance.

Can I enforce my English Financial Order for assets abroad?

The situation regarding assets which have been divided in the interests of fairness, such as property and pensions, is more complex. Enforcement depends on the order and where it is going to be enforced. If you are divorcing in this country, but have property abroad, it is advisable to gain legal advice before any agreements are made.

Can I enforce my foreign Financial Order in England?

This is usually possible if the divorce is recognised in this country, but it will depend on the arrangements that are in place between the English government and the country in which the order was made.

Legal Advice

For further advice, arrange a confidential meeting by calling +44 (0)20 7993 2936 or click here to complete a contact form.

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Although procedures are in place at English airports and ports to protect children from international child abduction, the ease with which we now travel around the world means that it can happen.

It is important that anybody affected by child abduction takes the earliest possible advice from a specialist solicitor.

I believe my child is going to be taken to live overseas without my consent, what can I do?

It is important to act quickly to obtain a Prohibitive Steps Order to prevent the child’s removal and/or contact the police if you believe they are to leave imminently.

My child has been taken overseas without my consent, what can I do?

If you have Parental Responsibility and your child has been taken from England and Wales, there are legal steps you can take to recover them. To increase the chances of the child being successfully returned home, it may help to start legal proceedings in both countries. In this situation it is important to take early legal advice.

We live in more than one country, will this affect the case to have my child returned?

 It is not uncommon for international families to have homes in more than one country if, for example, one parent has a job that requires them to spend time in different places. In these cases, it can be more difficult to establish where the child’s usual home is, but you should still be able to make the case that the child has a strong degree of integration into the social and family environment in the original country.

Is child abduction the same as kidnapping?

Child abduction is the legal term used to describe the unlawful removal of a child from their country of residence by someone connected to the child. It is distinct from kidnapping, which is abduction by a stranger, and should be dealt with by the police.

Legal Advice

For further advice, arrange a confidential meeting with one of our international child custody lawyers. Call us on +44 (0)20 7993 2936 or click here to complete a contact form.



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This is the law of the country and Brexit has not changed anything.

Practically speaking, anyone attempting to leave the country with a child needs to be able to prove that they are legally entitled to do so, or that they have the correct consent, regardless of where they are travelling. Anyone who has travelled abroad alone with a child or has a different family name is likely to have experienced this first-hand.

However, this system is not infallible and does not protect against the possibility of a child being taken overseas legally then not returned.

If you believe your child is at risk of being abducted internationally you should inform the police and seek immediate advice from a family solicitor who can help you to obtain a Prohibited Steps order to prevent their removal from the UK. Such orders are enforceable by the police and carry legal consequences if breached. In some cases, the Court will order that the child’s passport is revoked or prevent one from being issued.

To protect yourself and your child, it may be advisable to put a formal Child Arrangements Order in place so that parental responsibilities, living and contact arrangements are clearly defined and can be enforced if necessary. If you are having difficulty agreeing arrangements for your child, a family solicitor will be able to assist you with negotiations and help you to make an effective application to the Family Court if necessary.

Additionally, if you are concerned that a child is going on too many trips abroad, you can request that the Court imposes restrictions to keep the child in the UK for longer periods of time. It is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure there are suitable grounds for concern, before making an application to Court.

Reunite, an international organisation providing advice on child abduction situations, has produced a guide with detailed information on how to prevent child abduction and the signs to look out for, which you can read here.

There are no words for how worrying this situation will be, but there are laws and international agreements in place to help you secure the safe return of your child.

In the EU
The UK and all members of the EU are signatories to the Hague Convention, which was specifically created to protect children from wrongful removal across international borders. This convention sets out a procedure which is followed in cases of parental abduction, acknowledging custody rights and rights of access granted in signatory countries, to enable the child’s prompt return to their country of residence.

If you live in England or Wales and your child has been taken to or kept in a country that has signed the Hague Convention against your wishes, you can make an application for their return by contacting the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit.

Outside of the EU
85 countries have signed the Hague Convention so it is possible that it will still apply. In which case you will be able to make an application for your child’s return as outlined above. A list of Hague Convention members can be found here.

If your child has been taken to a country that is not part of the Hague Convention, you should contact the police immediately as they will be able to liaise with Interpol to establish the child’s whereabouts. Communication with the guardian who has taken the child will be key, as well as starting legal proceedings in that country to request the child’s return.

A family solicitor will be able to help with the international proceedings so that you can find the quickest and most efficient way of securing your child’s return. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit will also be able to provide advice.

Will the pandemic make it harder for a child to be returned?
Over the last year there have been attempts by parents to remove children to locations that are thought to have less risk from COVID. In one of the first reported cases in May 2020, a mother who took her child from the father in London to Greece was ordered to return the child after the Court found that Coronavirus is not justification for removing a child without consent.

Although the Courts are not operating at full capacity, urgent cases are still being heard and child abduction cases will be prioritised to ensure that children can be returned promptly. Even where travel restrictions have been imposed due to Coronavirus, the Courts have ordered the immediate return of children who have been abducted.

If you need to instruct a family solicitor to assist with child arrangements or international relocation, you can arrange a consultation with one of our specialist family team by calling 020 7993 2936.

If you require urgent advice in relation to parental child abduction, Louise Allard (+44 (0)7505 343411) or Sabrina Bailey (+44 (0)7507 343443) can be contacted directly.

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In this blog we will first look at how jurisdiction is affected and then discuss the recognition and enforcement of orders, including child maintenance.

Which country will have the power to make decisions about my family?
Both EU law and the Hague Convention state that matters regarding children should be heard in the country in which the child is ‘habitually resident’. Habitual

Residence is a legal concept which is decided on each child’s circumstances. It generally reflects the country where the child usually lives, but there are exceptions so it is advisable to check with a family solicitor if there is any doubt about how it will apply to your child.

You should be aware that Habitual Residence can change over time and a key difference between EU law and the Hague Convention is that the Hague Convention enables jurisdiction to change if a child’s habitual residence has changed during proceedings. Whereas EU law assigns a jurisdiction for the duration of proceedings.

This is a notable difference for parents who regularly move between countries and wish for proceedings to take place in a particular country. However, it is unlikely to be a major issue as there is additional guidance that can prevent a change of jurisdiction if there are corresponding matters being considered in another signatory country.

Proceedings which began before 2021 continue to be governed by EU law so a change to a child’s habitual residence should not affect the forum in which ongoing matters are heard.


What do you do if you have a court order from the UK and you want to enforce it in an EU country?

If your proceedings began before 1st January 2021, it should be reassuring to know that Court Orders will be treated as if they were made under EU law, regardless of when they are issued. This means they will be automatically recognised by the country in which enforcement is being sought and enforced swiftly.

The Hague Convention will apply to all proceedings that start after 1st January 2021. Broadly speaking, orders made in a country that has signed up to the Hague Convention can be enforced by any other country that is also a signatory. This means that if an order is made in UK it should still be enforceable in all EU countries and vice versa.

However, it is likely that the enforcement of orders could take longer because orders made in countries under the Hague Convention do not have the same ‘automatic’ recognition as granted between EU member states. If you want to enforce an order in another country, you will first need to register the order in that country or obtain a ‘declaration of enforceability’. If this relates to contact it could cause delays in you being able to see your child, so it is advisable to speak to a family solicitor as soon as possible.

There are also some small differences relating to circumstances in which orders may not be recognised, so it is advisable to seek specific legal advice from a solicitor who is aware of the relevant international laws.

Your child maintenance decision is still recognised in the EU if it was decided before 1st January or if your case was opened before then. If you have a decision you would like to be enforced, you can contact your nearest Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre who will be able to enforce this. There are two in England and one in Wales which you can look at following this link. If you are in Scotland you can contact the court where the maintenance decision was made or apply for a new order from the local sheriff court.

Although the process is straight forward, it might be useful to speak to a solicitor first if the enforcement of your order is urgent and you need advice.

If there are any international considerations in your child arrangements, it is important to seek legal advice from a specialist family solicitor as soon as possible. A solicitor with international experience will be able to guide and support you in taking the correct steps both in the UK and abroad.

With the country in lockdown and many children still home from school, we understand that it can be difficult to speak about matters that you might not want them to overhear. You can email us to arrange a call at a convenient time or follow this link to start your matter online.

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As travel and technology make the world feel smaller, it is becoming more common for families to have an international dimension.  This adds complexity to family law matters, particularly where there are children involved.

Whatever your nationality and country of residence, we can act quickly to consider which laws apply in your international family law case and which jurisdiction will be the most beneficial to you.

To ensure the best outcome, we work with international experts including forensic accountants, tax specialists and pension advisors.  This helps us to ensure that all aspects of your personal situation are considered from an early stage.

We are mindful that you have a busy life with conflicting appointments and it can be difficult to work with solicitors in different time zones, so we operate outside of the usual London office hours. 

Examples of Recent Cases

  • Gaining an order allowing a mother to relocate from England to New Zealand with her children.
  • Negotiating a highly favourable out of court settlement for a high-net-worth professional living in Singapore.
  • Representing a mother seeking a child arrangements order, housing and maintenance for her son in England, which was complicated by the fact that divorce proceedings were ongoing in Europe.
  • Negotiating a complex pre-nuptial agreement for a high-profile client with extensive assets in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Representing an American husband to appeal an order in ongoing financial proceedings due to a breach of his Article 6 right to a fair hearing.
  • Negotiating a carefully structured agreement for a wife whose husband, as well as considerable marital assets, were located in Iraq.

How can I instruct a solicitor from overseas?

Solicitors in England are bound by professional rules of conduct, including client identification and money laundering regulations.

In some circumstances it is possible to proceed without meeting a client, but we would usually need someone in the UK to have a Power of Attorney and be able to identify the ultimate client.  This can be achieved by having a lawyer in your country of residence carry out the appropriate identity checks. 

 You can meet with us on Skype, over Zoom, in person, or speak to us on the telephone at a time that works for you.

How much will it cost?

Every situation is different so you can choose the level of assistance you need, from a one-off consultation to review your arrangements or full representation in more complicated matters.  Therefore costs will vary.

Please be assured that we have a transparent approach to fees and will provide you with cost estimates at each stage.  For international matters we require a payment on account to be made and clients are then invoiced on a monthly basis, with a full breakdown of the work carried out.

Our flexible working practice means we are able to offer competitive fees despite our central London location.

Do you advise on other international matters?

We assist clients who are based overseas on a range of private wealth scenarios, including tax and estate planning for those who have assets in the UK, or when having moved abroad, the person is named as an executor in a Will.

In all situations we work with you and your local representatives to proceed in the way which is simplest and most cost effective, whilst also ensuring that we protect against the possibility of a fraudulent situation.

Read more about Private Wealth, Wills & Estate Planning.

Where are you based?

Allard Bailey Family Law is based in Holborn, London. We also have an office in Hertfordshire. Our team of divorce and family solicitors can guide you through the divorce process with empathy, keeping you fully informed at every stage. You can meet our divorce lawyers in our offices in London or Hertford for a face-to-face consultation, or wherever is most convenient for you. We can be reached anytime via:

(+44) 020 7993 2936

Head office


Hertfordshire office

For an initial discussion about your situation, please call us on 020 7993 2936 or visit here

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Do I need consent from my child’s other parent before taking them to live overseas temporarily?

English law states that everyone with Parental Responsibility for a child needs to give consent for that child to be taken overseas for any length of time.  However, if your child lives with you and that is recorded in a Child Arrangements Order, you can usually take them overseas for up to 28 days without permission.  If you require consent, but this has not been given, you can apply to the court for permission.

Can I move overseas with my child if I do not have their other parent’s consent?

If the child’s other parent has Parental Responsibility, they usually need to give consent for that child to live overseas.  If they do not agree, you can apply to the court for permission to relocate.  It can take a number of months, or even years for the court to make a final decision, so it is vital that legal advice is sought at an early stage.

What documents do I need to take my child overseas?

We recommend that the child’s other parent provide a letter of consent, which contains their contact details so that its authenticity can be checked. If you have a Child Arrangements Order that states your child lives with you then you can take your child overseas for up to 28 without permission. It is a good idea to take a sealed copy of the relevant Court Order when you travel.  We recommend that you check with your Solicitor if you need to do anything else, such as having documents verified. If you do not have the same surname as your child, you may be asked to prove your relationship to them if you travel. In which case, we advise taking extra documentation such as a copy of their birth certificate, adoption certificate or your parental order, as well as any relevant divorce or marriage certificates.

Legal Advice

For further advice, arrange a confidential meeting with one of our international child custody lawyers. Call us on +44 (0)20 7993 2936 or click here to complete a contact form.

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If you have day-to-day care of the children it is natural that you find it difficult to switch off from that role and relinquish responsibility for a longer period of time. Many parents experience FOMO – fear of missing out – particularly if the children are going on holiday or experiencing something exciting and new that they are not part of. This can take you by surprise, especially if you are keen for them to go, but it is also natural.

What can you do?

Sometimes it can help to take the rose-tinted glasses off and look at the situation for what it is. Holidays often mean long airport queues and endless hours of ‘are we nearly there yet’!  Parenting is a tough job day-to-day and all the same challenges will be present during the shared time too.

Discuss Safety Concerns

Although it is important to respect your co-parent’s role and understand that their parenting style may be different from yours, it is normal to worry more when the children are going abroad.  These anxieties commonly revolve around plane journeys, pool safety and stranger danger.  The most successful way of co-parenting would be to arrange a conversation, in whatever way you and your former partner communicate best, to discuss these worries and find solutions.

Something as simple as a text message to let you know the children have arrived safely can be incredibly comforting. Discussing practical preparations for the children’s safety, such as increasing swimming lessons before the holiday or using arm bands, as well as having joint chats with the children about talking to strangers can also go a long way to address your concerns.

Take Time Out

Few people will dispute that parenting is the hardest job in the world.  A resident parent is often juggling children, the household and work, which leaves little time for a social life.  It can therefore be helpful to view this time as ‘annual leave’ from parenting.  The time off will give you a chance to slow down, take a break yourself or go out for the evening without having to arrange childcare.  It is essential to give yourself permission to take a break and recharge so you will be ready to give the children 100% when they return home.

Plan Ahead

Keeping busy is a great way to counteract your anxieties about time away from your children, so make the most of your time by planning ahead.  Some parents find it helpful to produce a calendar of their ‘days off’ which they circulate to family and friends so they can organise an adult get together or book their holidays around it.

Have Your Own Adventures

Think about what you would like to do.  It might sound like a cliché, but it is a good chance to try a new hobby and plan some day trips to places that would not interest your children.

If you are stuck for things to do and people to do it with, it is a good time to think about expanding your network. There are a number of lone parent groups, solo travel groups, forums (such as Mumsnet) and charities for lone parents (such as Gingerbread) that organise meet ups, day trips and holidays for other lone parents while the children are away.

Maintain Indirect Contact with the Children

One of the best ways of coping with this short term separation is to agree some indirect contact in advance.  Arranging a planned Facetime, skype or phone call can be reassuring for everyone.  We recommend that any calls are at agreed times so both parents can plan around it and, more importantly, the children do not feel let down hoping for calls that might not happen.  Please remember, it is important that calls are not excessive or intrusive as that could make the non-resident parent feel like their time is being infringed upon or scrutinised.

Depending on the ages of your children they might also be able to email you, or your co-parent might agree to email an update with some pictures.  Another non-invasive way of maintaining contact, would be for the children to send post cards, which can be as good for them as it is for you.

Indirect contact is easier to arrange if it is mutual and respectfully put in place for both parties, all year round.  It is something that you can agree without a solicitor.

If it is difficult to do so, a mutual friend or family member might be able to facilitate a resolution.  You might also consider mediation with a professional Mediator who will help you to reach an outcome.

However, if one parent has broached the subject a few times and not had a successful response, a letter from a solicitor can often help move things along in the right direction.

If a Child Arrangement Order is being made through the court, indirect contact during holidays can be included within the agreement, if it is in the best interests of the child to do so.

Make Your Own Memories

Whether your children are away for two weeks or two days, it can feel like a long time, but they will be back.  You may feel like you missed out on lots of exciting adventures, but you will make your own great memories with them.

For further advice on Child Contact Arrangements, call us on 020 7993 2936 or click here.

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