Roger Birch attended the Expatriate Law – International Family Law Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on 3 and 4 May 2018.

The conference was attended by regional family lawyers practising in Turkey, Bahrain, Algeria, Pakistan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAR).  Also present were international family lawyers from United States of America, Australia, South Africa, India, England and Wales and Scotland.

The conference concentrated on

  1. Child relocation to and from the Middle East together with child abduction
  2. Divorce and Financial Resolution in the Middle East with an emphasis on expats in the UAR.
  3. Enforcement of court judgments obtained in England and Wales in the UAR.
  4. Alternative Dispute Resolution for International Families by Professor David Hodson OBE MICArb of the International Family Law Group.

A seminar on this subject is to be arranged in the autumn at 5 St Andrews Hill, London.  Roger set out his views on some issues raised in the conference below.

It is important to remember that when courts determine whether a parent should be permitted to take a child to visit or relocate to a foreign country over the objections of the other parent, they should seriously consider whether the terms of a proposed custody order will in fact be recognised and effectively enforced in the foreign country.  It is an obvious observation that there can be serious adverse consequences for the child and the other parent if the custody order is not meaningfully enforced overseas. 

Therefore, anyone involved in a case where there is a request of one parent to remove a child out of the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales should provide evidence before the court seized of the case as to the destination country’s legal system.  Further, even if there is provision to enforce in the destination country, how many cases have been successful.  It is important to seek legal advice in the United Kingdom and invariably from a lawyer from the destination country.

India and Nigeria have not signed the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 (the 1980 Hague Convention).  The 1980 Hague Convention provides for a mechanism to return a child who had been internationally abducted by a parent from one-member country to another.  Pakistan has signed the 1980 Hague Convention.  However, although a country may be a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention it does not necessarily mean that they will automatically enforce the 1980 Hague convention.  

An example is the state of Mexico.  Mexico has signed the 1980 Hague Convention. However, there is evidence that Mexico will not necessary enforce the terms of the 1980 Hague Convention.   This information has been obtained from the US Department of State 2012 Report on Compliance with the Hague Convention.

Finally, I would like to mention the “Malta Process” which has been established to facilitate the development of mediation structures to resolve cross border family disputes.  The “Malta Process” promotes cooperation with countries with legal systems influenced by or based upon Shari’a Law, for the international protection of children and the resolution of complex, trans-frontier family conflict.    

Roger practices in international family law.  He has regularly lectured and chaired discussions on family law matters especially in connection with the Voice of the Child at the annual International Family Law Conference presented by the law firm Miller Du Toit Cloete Inc and the University of the Western Cape, in Cape Town, South Africa.