New international children's law

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From 1 November 2012 the 1996 Hague Convention has taken effect, following ratification by the UK Government.

This process has taken over 16 years, but now provides us with legislation to protect, recognise, enforce and cooperate in respect of measures for the protection of children both in the UK abroad.

This new legislation applies to countries that have also signed up to the convention, which can be easily checked. If a country has agreed to be bound to the 1996 Convention, they, as a "Contracting State" are bound to assist and deal with the reciprocating child law arrangements that apply.

What does this mean in practice? There is now legislation offering more options for parents seeking to have their children who have been moved aboard by the other parent, without their consent, returned to their home country, including using the courts of their home country to obtain the necessary order.

Parents whose children have moved abroad by agreement should be able to more easily enforce the contact arrangements under this convention.

The eventual ratification of this legislation is a reflection of the growing need for more law existing to assist when children and their parents move abroad, which occurs much more often now than in the past.

With employment and travel opportunities worldwide, this type of issue is likely to only increase in its regularity.