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UK joins the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention

On 27th July 2012, the United Kingdom deposited its instrument of ratification in respect of the Hague Convention of 19th October 1996 on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children. The 1996 Convention will enter into force for the United Kingdom on 1st November 2012.

The 1996 Child Protection Convention is particularly helpful in cases of parental disputes over custody and contact. The Convention provides a structure for the resolution of issues of custody and contact which may arise when parents are separated and living in different countries.

The Convention avoids the problems that may arise if the courts in more than one country are competent to decide these matters. The recognition and enforcement provisions avoid the need for re-litigating custody and contact issues and ensure that decisions taken by the authorities of the country where the child has his or her habitual residence enjoy primacy. The co-operation provisions provide for any necessary exchange of information and offer a structure through which, by mediation or other means, agreed solutions may be found.

The 1996 Convention reinforces the 1980 Child Abduction Convention by underlining the primary role played by the authorities of the child’s habitual residence in deciding upon any measures which may be needed to protect the child in the long term.

It also adds to the efficacy of any temporary protective measures ordered by a judge when returning a child to the country from which the child was taken, by making such orders enforceable in that country until such time as the authorities there are able themselves to put in place necessary protections.

Source: the Hague Conference on Private International Law

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