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International elements to all walks of life are ever increasing in today’s society, and we are noticing particularly so in family disputes, relationship breakdowns and when separated parents need to resolve the arrangements for their children. The family court regularly deals with cases where the family make up spans different jurisdictions and often parents and children with dual citizenship. This can sometimes create an additional hurdle for the court to be asked to determine which court should have jurisdiction (habitual residence) to hear a case and so delay the outcome for the child or children involved.

The recent case presided over by Mr Justice Hayden of B (A Minor: Habitual Residence) [2016] EWHC 2174 (Fam), emphasises that preparation for these must be child-driven. A proper and detailed consideration of the child’s day to day life and experiences; family environment; interests and hobbies; friends, etc. as well as an appreciation of which adults are most important to the child is required.

The judge indicates in his judgment that perhaps too often in the past have parties focused statements predominantly on the adults rather than the child or children concerned. Mr Justice Hayden expresses concern that with a more diligent approach, the factual issue of habitual residence might be more easily resolved and so avoid the matter having to be litigated in the court.

Ed Bidder works in our  family law team.  The team has a wealth of experience and offers advice on all children issues, including offering legal aid.  Please call 01392 210700 or email enquries@stephens-scown.co.uk for further information.