Before moving overseas with children or if relocation fails



Are you planning to move abroad with your partner? And do you have children too – or do you plan having some abroad?

There is something nobody tells you when moving abroad: if anything goes wrong and you want to turn back home at some point, it may not be as easy as you think…

As soon as you arrive in the new country with the intention of staying, your children’s habitual residence shifts to your new country. If at some point “you separate with your partner or if one of you wants to stay and the other one wants to go home, you might never be allowed to return home with your children“. If the other partner doesn’t give the permission to take the child back home, “you will need to apply to the LOCAL court to override this” and relocation application take 2 to 5 years….– please find more details in the article Nobody tells you this about moving overseas with your children.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction 1980  is a “multilateral treaty, which seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return. The “Child Abduction Section” provides information about the operation of the Convention and the work of the Hague Conference in monitoring its implementation and promoting international co-operation in the area of child abduction.”

If you decide at some point to leave the country with your child without the consense of your partner (i.e. the father/mother of your child(ren)), you may risk to be accused of abduction.

If you find yourself in this situation and have no intention to abduct your child, but want to know what you need to do in order to take your child with you, the “Going Home Together” campaign is about changing the law for parents that come from the same country but move abroad.

In cases where the parents split up and one parent does not want the other to return home with the children, The Hague Convention can be used to enforce the entrapment of the children in a foreign country. This was not the original intention of The Hague Convention but its use is causing many problems for children worldwide. This campaign hopes to highlight the injustice of this scenario and gives 6 proposals for change to the convention.

If you are looking for support, please visit the site “Expat Stuck Mums” and join them on facebook.

How can you protect yourself?

You need to make decisions before moving abroad and, if you want to be on the safest side, consult with an International Family Lawyer to formally record the decisions.

You may want to seriously consider to discuss all the possible scenarios and decide together how long your agreements will be valid.

  • What will you do if of the partners doesn’t like living in the new country?
  • What will happen if you split up (for whatever reason)? What will happen to the children?
  • What if one of you, or your children, gets ill and wants to go home?

Will you all return home or will one be able to return home with the children? (cfr. these are all points listed in the article by Carol Hallet Mobbs)

Stating Carol Hallet Mobbs: “at the moment there exists no pre-migration contract – which would work like a pre-nub contract – but “Expat Stuck Mums” are working to produce one. It may not be a 100% guarantee for any of the partners, but it surely is better than nothing. ” 

More articles on this topic here, here and here.


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  1. Pingback: Before following your partner abroad... - Ute's International Lounge

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