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Habitual Residence, The Hague Conventions and Public Family Law

With the number of people going abroad to escape the family courts it strikes me it is useful to talk about which courts have jurisdiction.

There are two important phrases which apply to determine which court has the power to make a decision. One is "ordinarily resident" and the other is "habitually resident".

When someone is "habitually resident" in England then the local authority in which that person is "ordinarily resident" is responsible for care proceedings. That means that if someone goes to Cornwall on holiday from Birmingham, Birmingham retains responsibility.

If someone is abroad on holiday then they are habitually resident in England, but if they go abroad with the objective of staying there then they become habitually resident abroad. There is a complex question as to when they become habitually resident abroad. The first point is that the English courts consider that if care proceedings have been issued and served then skipping the country does not prevent a court order.

If a court care order is in place then it is normally unlawful to leave the country.

When someone is outside the UK and facing proceedings under the Hague Convention to get children returned then the decisions are taken both by courts in England and also by the foreign courts.

This provides a small amount of information about Hague Convention issues. There is, of course, a lot more.

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