Navigating International Family Law: Delays and Cancellations – What Separated Parents Need to Know

Airports and Airlines are in absolute chaos following the air traffic fault on 28.08.2023 which led to the mass cancellation of a significant number of flights and delays to others.   Inevitably this will cause the individuals and families concerned significant inconvenience.  But what of separated parents who had permission to take their children on holiday and return on a specific date?

Many separated parents agree through discussions with the other parent or through court order that the parent can take their children on holiday out of England and Wales for specific time periods or between specific dates.   Many parents will be panicking thinking that they are going to be in trouble with the because they have overstayed past the agreed date due to these flight issues.

In situations like this where it is beyond the parent’s control, there will be no consequences as long as the parent is able to demonstrate that they have tried their hardest to return the children to England and Wales as soon as possible. The other parent should be kept fully updated and video contact between the child and parent at home should be encouraged.  If a parent who has taken their children on holiday is receiving threats from the other parent to report them to the police or start family court proceedings, then it is important not to panic. Early legal advice is essential.  Legal aid remains available for some people in these circumstances.

But what if a parent thinks the other parent will use this as an excuse not to return the children for longer than necessary or not return the children at all?  Again, early legal advice here is essential.   If the parent at home is assured by the other parent giving regular updates that efforts are being made to return the children to England and Wales, then a sensible but cautious approach must be taken.   If, however, the parent has a strong belief (or a gut feeling) that the other parent is not going to return the children or is not taking appropriate and reasonable steps to return the children, then urgent legal action may be required. Delay can cause more problems in such scenarios.

Different countries have international agreements with England and Wales which will allow applications for children to be returned and the English family courts can also assist in securing the return of children.

Some people have good reason for not returning to England and Wales with their children, but many simply do not understand their obligation to go through the family court in England and Wales before permanently moving the children to another country.   Many have experienced lack of support in England and want to continue spending time with their family and friends after spending the summer feeling loved and supported in their home country.

Others are finally feeling free from domestic abuse and feel able to start to heal after trauma.  Some have been living between two countries for a period of time and simply feel that the other country has become their home and they do not see a life left for them or their children in England and Wales.   There are many other reasons why people do not return home with their children after summer holidays and there are no blanket rules that can assure either parent that they will get what they want in the end.  Instead, each family’s circumstances need to be looked at on an individual basis.

Should you wish to discuss your individual circumstances with our expert international family team, please do not hesitate to contact us.     Our offices are located in Liverpool, Manchester and Cheshire but remote instructions are frequently taken on a national and international basis.

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For direct advice on your situation, reach out to our skilled international family team. We’re here to help, whether you’re local to our offices in Liverpool, Manchester, and Cheshire or seeking assistance remotely from anywhere nationally or internationally.