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International Family Law

It is increasingly common for British families to involve one or more partner with connections to another country. This might involve where a couple have relocated or where a UK citizen has married a non-UK national.

While this does not usually result in any significant legal issues during a relationship, there can be some specific issues that will need to be accounted for if your relationship ends. This can be particularly true if you have children together and one parent wishes to take those children abroad.

At Crisp & Co, our family lawyers are highly experienced in advising people on all of the various legal and practical issues involved in international family law. We can provide friendly, expert advice to help cut through any confusion and enable you to navigate any complex issues without unnecessary conflict.

Whether you are facing divorce, need advice with any issues involved with taking children abroad, or are looking for assistance with any other issues related to international family law, we will be happy to discuss your options with you.

For help with any aspect of international family law, please get in touch with our specialist family solicitors in London and across the South East now for friendly, practical advice.

You can call us on 020 8017 8962 or contact your local Crisp & Co office.


International divorce

If married in the UK and both you and your spouse still live in the UK, there are often no special considerations and you can move forward with your divorce like any other British couples.

However, if you married abroad or you or your spouse no longer live in the UK, there are a number of issues you may need to address. Often the most critical of these is where to start divorce proceedings.

Where to get divorced

Because different countries have different laws around divorce, where the proceedings are initiated can sometimes affect how your divorce progresses. It is therefore important to take expert legal advice as soon as possible when you realise your marriage is over to avoid any disadvantage to you if your spouse pre-empts you by starting divorce proceedings in another country.

International divorce proceedings

The exact process for an international divorce will depend on the country in which proceedings are issued. We will be happy to advise you on how this is likely to impact your particular circumstances, which can often be a key factor in deciding where to initiate divorce proceedings.

International divorce and financial arrangements

Making a financial settlement for your divorce can sometimes be more complicated where there are international considerations. This is particularly likely to be true if your former spouse has significant assets abroad, such as property, shares or business interests.

We have strong experience with helping families to deal with international divorce settlements, so can advise you on the various options and how we can help you to ensure you achieve a fair settlement.

For more information, please take a look at our international divorce services.

Taking children abroad after divorce or separation

To take a child abroad, you need the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for the child. This applies whether you are going abroad permanently or just for a holiday. Failure to obtain consent from everyone with parental responsibility before taking a child abroad could see you charged with child abduction, which is a serious criminal offence.


Understanding parental responsibility

Who has parental responsibility will depend on the circumstances. A child’s birth mother will automatically have parental responsibility, unless the child has been adopted or taken into care. Whether a father has parental responsibility will depend on various factors, such as whether they were married to the mother at the time of the birth or named on the birth certificate.

Read more about who has parental responsibility for a child.

Proof of parental consent when taking a child abroad

You will normally need a letter from the child’s other parent giving consent before taking a child abroad. This will need to include the contact details from the other parent. It is also usually a good idea to have your child’s birth certification (or a copy) and your divorce certificate.

Applying to a court for permission to take a child abroad

If your child’s other parent refuses permission for you to take your child abroad, you will need to apply to a court for permission. As part of your application, you will need to provide details of trip such as when it is happening and how you are travelling.

If your spouse continues to object, you may need to attend a court hearing to be granted permission to take your child abroad. If the court grants permission, they will issue a court order and you will need proof of this when taking your child abroad.

Preventing your child from being taken abroad

If you wish to prevent your former partner from taking your child abroad, you should first discuss this with them wherever possible and try to reach an agreement over how to move forward.

If you are concerned that your former partner intends to take your child abroad permanently without your permission, or for reasons such as a forced marriage that could affect your child’s welfare, you can take legal action to stop your child being taken out of the UK.

We can assist in applying for a Prohibited Steps Order, which will prevent your child being taken abroad and can be put in place quickly if required.

Why choose Crisp & Co for international family law?

Crisp & Co’s specialist family lawyers have strong expertise with international family law, regularly helping clients to navigate complex issues including international divorce and taking children abroad following separation or divorce.

No matter how complex the matters involved, we believe in taking a non-confrontational approach wherever possible. In our experience, this produces better outcomes for everyone involved, especially children.

Our team includes trained mediators and collaborative lawyers, who can assist you with resolving any contentious issues, including making a divorce settlement or arrangements for children.

We are accredited by the Law Society for Family Law Advanced, reflecting our expertise in this area, and our divorce lawyers are members of Resolution, a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from family law.

However, we accept that not all international family law matters can be resolved amicably, with court proceedings sometimes being unavoidable. As a result, our team also has strong experience with handling family law matters through the courts, enabling us to offer the clear, swift and effective advice and representation you need no matter what action is required to protect your interests and those of your loved ones.

Get in touch with our international family law solicitors in London & South East England

For clear, friendly, practical guidance on all matters related to international family law, please contact our specialist family solicitors in London and across the South East now by calling 020 8017 8962 or contacting your local Crisp & Co office.