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International Family Law Practice, The



Provides comprehensive coverage of the international elements of English family law

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As a consequence of the increased mobility of families between different countries, family lawyers are now frequently faced with international issues arising in their cases. This major practitioner reference work provides comprehensive coverage of the international elements of English law, and includes all relevant source material, thereby providing an indispensable guide for solicitors, barristers and the judiciary to this rapidly expanding area of law and practice.

This new edition is fully updated throughout to include:

  • Consideration of the possible impact of Brexit on international family law matters
  • The specific rules for allocation of cases, with certificates of complexity, to High Court judges
  • The practical aspects of what lawyers need to do to gain priority of proceedings (‘lis pendens’)
  • The detailed interaction between Brussels II Revised and the 1996 Hague Convention
  • Guidance concerning allocation of international surrogacy parental order applications
  • Analysis of the applicable principles in internal relocation matters and the development of case-law on external relocations
  • Significant new case-law on public law proceedings with an international element
  • Recent EU Maintenance Regulation decisions
  • A new chapter on Female Genital Mutilation

Also available online

This book is part of Family Law Online which includes an International module that combines all the international family law content and allows you to access it all in one place with links between related Family Law Report cases. Find out more >>

  • Introduction and Practice/Case Management
  • European Imperative in International Family Law 
  • Recognition of Foreign Marriages and Divorces
  • Same-sex and Cohabitation Relationships
  • Stays in the UK, Europe and Worldwide
  • Domicile, Residence and Nationality
  • Financial Provision after an Overseas Divorce: MFPA 1984, Part III
  • International Injunctions and Protective Orders
  • Enforcement and Registration of Financial Orders
  • Pensions
  • Trusts and Corporate Interests
  • Marital Agreements
  • International Children Issues
  • Applications to Take Children Abroad
  • Child Abduction
  • International Adoption
  • Surrogacy
  • Forced Marriage
  • Care and Placement Proceedings Involving International Families
  • Domestic Violence
  • Service
  • Affidavits, Statements of Truth and Apostilles
  • Evidence
  • Cross-border Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR)
  • Legal Aid
  • Distinctive Aspects of Islamic Law
  • Immigration Issues
  • International Judicial Collaboration
  • The Future

Review of the previous edition
"If you're a family law practitioner whose work has international ramifications or dimensions, this book should be an essential purchase.... this is the book to which you should turn to if you wish to increase your expertise and authority in this rapidly expanding field....Flow charts, bullet points, checklists, not to mention the detailed table of contents, make it easier for the hard pressed practitioner to look things up....one massive but convenient volume, which we say is fast becoming the definitive work in this area"
read the review in full
Phillip Taylor MBE and ELizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

The Latest Key Developments in International Family Law - Now in a New Fourth Edition
"This book has come tobe a highly regarded and invaluable resource for practitioners involvedprofessionally in international family law...‘the explosion ofpublic law cases with an international element’ following on from theintroduction of the single unified family court in 2014...law cases are nowbeing dealt with by ‘all levels of judges’ as a consequence...its purchase all themore necessary...‘a practical guide tohelp very able family lawyers accustomed to dealing with purely national casesto understand the international elements arising in a case.’...this book is clearlywritten and easy to navigate...this book provides areliable and expert guide to virtually every conceivable issue in internationalfamily law and is therefore the ideal work of reference for barristers,solicitors and the judiciary."
read the review in full
Phillip Taylor MBE and ELizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

Review of A Practical Guide to International Family Law
"David Hodson is recognised as pre-eminent in the field of international family law and demonstrates a mastery of the complexities involved ... provides an extensive introduction to the subject with suggestions as to how to recognise and than tackle an international case depending upon the individual practitioner's knowledge and experience ... The book flags up the questions that need to be asked and guides the practitioner as to where to find that answer ... This book has been awaited with great anticipation by myself and my colleagues. It has many gems and includes useful tables and well set out guidelines throughout with handy hints ... comprehensive overview of the subject and an interesting read
Family Law Week

2015-2016 Edition

When family law cases with an international element would almost always be transferred up to the Family Division of the High Court, there was a comfortable and serene acknowledgement that international family law work was complex, specialist, moderately rare and needed the very highest level of judicial expertise and particularly able and experienced practitioners. Practice directions and rules of court in respect of transfers of proceedings encouraged this acknowledgement. The Law Society described international family law work as a specialisation requiring a higher standard of expertise and care.

The relatively short time since the previous edition has both confirmed this complexity and yet simultaneously placed international family law within the normal borders of family law work. The single, unified family court arrived in April 2014 with High Court judges sitting in the family court. Suddenly the rules on transfer of cases up to the High Court changed. Whilst a narrow band of cases including distinctive international aspects were reserved to the Family Division of the High Court, most so-called international cases were allocated between the judges sitting in the family court. Indeed, the family court absorbed the international work undertaken by the family proceedings court in reciprocal enforcement. International cases are now being dealt with by all levels of judges. The Law Society quietly left out of its protocol that international work was any longer a specialisation. Too many solicitors were dealing with international work as a matter of necessity to make it a distinctive

Yet international laws, relevant domestic laws, rules and procedures and good practice have continued to grow and be very complex. Many High Court and appeal cases regularly refer to the position in other jurisdictions and English law is developing closely alongside our civil law European neighbours and common law historical ties. For a topic not considered any longer specialist, it remains nevertheless a very difficult area of law.

In turn this now informs this book. It remains as with the previous editions a practical guide to help very able family lawyers used to dealing with entirely national cases to understand the international elements arising in a case. It retains basic overviews, bullet points, good practice guides and practical recommendations. It starts with a presumption of limited knowledge of international elements and explains not only the content of the law but the underlying purpose and intent. But there are now many lawyers previously only dealing with entirely national cases who are often getting to grips with difficult cases on law and practice and procedure. This book endeavours
throughout to meet the need for complex in-depth analysis and exposition.

Finally there are the particularly complex cases raising new points of international law and practice for which I seek in this book to assist in giving signposts and references to cases in ancillary areas which may inform the way ahead. Jordan Publishing, my fellow contributors and I trust this book meets the needs of these various groups.

I remain conscious that of course judges need to know this law and I hope this book meets the judicial requirements of what to do, what not to do and what to do very quickly. I am aware mediators also read this textbook for a background understanding. There are now very many litigants in person. They have my sympathy in trying to cope with a case with international elements; another reason why the dismantling of our available legal aid creates such huge injustice and unfairness. This book does not pretend to be a simplistic Handbook but I hope that it communicates some of the issues and potential pitfalls when dealing with these sorts of cases.

The period since the previous edition has seen the introduction of the unified family court, which has brought about many domestic procedural changes. We now have case-law in respect of the EU Maintenance Regulation and at long last the 2007 Hague Maintenance Convention is in force. After the Supreme Court decision in Radmacher, we have several cases in the context of international marital agreements. Post-Prest, there has been exploration of opportunities of orders in respect of foreign trusts. We have the initial cases under the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention. After the radical change in relocation law, we have now a number of cases exploring the best interest test in the context of applications to take children abroad. There has been a real growth in surrogacy cases. There have been big changes in immigration law. There are many other changes across the book.

In two areas it became obvious that we needed new chapters. I had been conscious at the time of the previous edition that there were cases concerning public law in the international context. A good number had involved Eastern Europe. The number of these cases has exploded over the last few years and apparently now takes up much of the work of the Family Law International Liaison Judge’s office. I am grateful to Aidan Vine for contributing the chapter on public law. Next, the EU had been carrying out excellent work in the area of domestic violence under the Daphne project and has now introduced cross-border domestic violence protections in new law. I am grateful to my iFLG colleague, Anna Simmonds, barrister, for helping me write the chapter on
this subject.

I remain grateful to my previous contributors who have yet again agreed to assist, including David Salter who took over the trusts chapter from me so I could concentrate on other chapters. The authors are Edward Bennett (international judicial  collaboration), Helen Blackburn (adoption, legal aid and child abduction), Nadine Finch (immigration), Louisa Ghevaert (surrogacy), Katherine Landells (same-sex relationships), Louise McCallum (forced marriages), Nazia Rashid (Islamic issues), David Salter (marital agreements, trusts and pensions), Tim Scott QC (general international children law matters), Anna Simmonds (co-contributor domestic violence), Ann Thomas (relocation) and Aidan Vine (public law).

My publishers, Greg Woodgate and Kate Hather, have been highly encouraging with good ideas for developing the book.

As ever, I am exceptionally grateful to my colleagues at The International Family Law Group LLP, London. Michael Allum and Anna Simmonds helped with a considerable amount of initial research. I appreciate the exceptionally fortunate position to be in a firm which day by day receives enquiries from around the world, including many law firms here and abroad, about the most incredibly complex of issues of law and practice. The interwoven facts, international connections and matters of law sometimes defy reasonable belief but this is the life of many international families. As I set out in the concluding chapter, I remain saddened that despite good intentions in many places the position for these families and their children is not getting easier.
I am exceedingly grateful to Professor Nigel Lowe for writing the Foreword. I am particularly grateful to my wife, Ann, for all her considerable support without which this book would never have come into creation or been seen in its subsequent incarnations.

Finally and as an undoubted highlight for me, I was absolutely delighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2014 to receive the OBE for ‘services to international family law’. I felt very strongly that it was because of the incredible work by many people in this area of which I have been most fortunate to be a part. Conversations with Her Majesty are supposed to be confidential but, at the risk of being carted off to the Tower, at the Investiture in early December 2014 at Windsor Castle one of the things Her Majesty said to me was, in terms, international family law sounds very complicated. Yes indeed, ma’am, it certainly is!

Thank you to Jordan Publishing for realising the importance of this work and the need for this book. In a few months’ time, it goes into soft form and will be available online. I look forward to the opportunity to bring the many developments more quickly to the knowledge of the profession.

David Hodson OBE
January 2015

2015-2016 Edition

The International Family Law Practice is a huge and impressive work and it is my continuing pleasure to write the Foreword to this edition. That this is already the fourth edition of a work first published in 2008 (then David Hodson’s A Practical Guide to International Family Law) bears testimony both to the continuing exponential growth in international family law litigation and to the success of, and need for, this work.

In fact, there have been a number of significant changes since the publication of
the third edition in 2013, not least of which has been the introduction of the single unified family court in April 2014, one result of which has been that international family law cases are now being dealt with by all levels of judges. Alongside this development has been the explosion of public law cases with an international element. Internationally, a new European Regulation (the Protection Measures Regulation 2013) dealing with domestic violence came into force on 11 January 2015 (see the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments (Protection Measures Regulations) 2014, SI 2014/3298). Both these latter developments are reflected by the addition of two new chapters dealing with these issues. Further, as David Hodson says in the Preface, both the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and the EU Maintenance Regulation have begun to generate case law, while case law on the revised Brussels II Regulation and child abduction continue to be legion. These developments, too, are reflected in the new edition.

The Preface makes the point that as so many practitioners now deal with international family law work it can no longer be considered a distinct specialisation. But that, however, is not to deny its complexity and it is the enduring strength of this work that it provides practitioners with a basic point of reference across the whole international family law field. The International Family Law Practice is squarely aimed at the practitioner and is replete with good practice advice and clarifying flowcharts. It is clearly written by a team of experienced practitioners, principally by David Hodson, whose long involvement in international practice was recognised by the award of an OBE in 2014.

An impressive feature of the work is its width of coverage. Its 29 chapters deal with not just the obvious issues such as recognition of foreign marriages and divorce, same-sex and cohabitation relationships, financial provision after an overseas divorce, marital agreements, child abduction, child relocation,surrogacy and international adoption but also less obvious but really useful topics such as enforcement and registration of orders, stays in the UK, Europe and worldwide, pensions, trusts and forced marriage. As already intimated, there are two additional chapters, namely, Care and Placement Proceedings involving International Families (Chapter 19) and Domestic Violence (Chapter 20). There are also a number of useful practical chapters dealing with service, affidavits and statements of truth, evidence, cross-border alternative dispute resolution and legal aid. The book also includes chapters on Islamic Law and immigration issues. The work begins with a couple of chapters explaining what international family law is and why practitioners need to know about it and also on practice and case management. The interesting concluding chapter looks to the future.

Not to be overlooked are the indispensable Appendices which not only contain the disparate relevant domestic and international legislation but also various Protocols and international Declarations.

In short, The International Family Law Practice has established itself as an indispensable part of the practising family lawyer’s library and an equally useful work of reference for the judiciary and the academic community.

Nigel Lowe
Emeritus Professor, Cardiff University
March 2015

David Hodson  OBE, Partner at The International Family Law Group LLP, London. English accredited family law solicitor, mediator, arbitrator, Deputy District Judge of the Central Family Court, London, Australian qualified solicitor and barrister.

With specialist contributions by: Edward Bennett, Barrister, Harcourt Chambers; Helen Blackburn, Partner, The International Family Law Group LLP; Nadine Finch, Salaried Judge of the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber); Louisa Ghevaert, Partner, Michelmores LLP; Katharine Landells, Partner, Withers LLP; Louise McCallum, Barrister, Zenith Chambers; Nazia Rashid, Solicitor; David Salter, Consultant, Mills & Reeve LLP; Zimran Samuel, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers; Timothy Scott QC, Barrister and Arbitrator, 29 Bedford Row; Ann Thomas, Managing Partner, The International Family Law Group LLP; Aidan Vine QC, Barrister, Harcourt Chambers

2015-2016 Edition

International family law work used to involve only wealthy clients and highly specialised practitioners. Accordingly it was safely left, indeed consigned, to an
easily disregarded black hole. That black hole imploded many years ago, although the impact has only been fully felt in the last decade. The past couple of decades have seen a massive movement of people around the globe for reasons of work, personal travel and personal/political/financial betterment as well as significant numbers fleeing the situation in their home country. Within the European Union (EU), this was accelerated by the policy of the free movement of labour, even further accelerated with the eastern European accession states.

The inevitable consequence has been a vast increase in the number of international relationships, families and children. Equally inevitably, there has also been an increase in relationship breakdown and disputes involving these international families. For some, the international element has ultimately been of no relevance in their family disputes, which are resolved within one country by that country’s national laws and where all of the marital assets are situated and where the children are living.

However, very many international families have real and ongoing connections with more than one country. It is here that such families look for help to an international family law and to lawyers able to advise them on international family law. On both counts, these international families are sometimes disappointed.

There is still relatively little family law, certainly outside the EU, for the direct benefit and application of international families. Actual pure international family law, ie law which is international in content and application, is moderately limited, although growing fast.1 There are now many family laws within the EU but some are highly unsatisfactory and out of step with the conciliatory doctrines and settlement/appropriate dispute resolution (ADR) orientated philosophies of the practice of domestic English family law. Moreover by being so continental European-centric, many EU laws are very alien to the culture of law and practice in England. There are international children multilateral agreements, especially from The Hague, which work very well but are sometimes subject to very different national interpretations and sometimes inadequate resources of national laws and courts.

Instead too often these international families find a hotchpotch of historic laws, inconsistently or nationalistically applied and interpreted, minimal consistency and little coherent philosophy, thereby failing many families. They search in vain for a perceived sense of justice, fairness and ease of resolution. Sadly it
then gets worse for these families.

Although international family law has had to make the leap from mega-money couples to average families, the family law practitioners across the world dealing with average wealth families have too often not made the same leap and learnt about international family law. This is for a very understandable reason: it is a complex, alien and quickly changing area of law. Its concepts and approaches are very different to national law. It has less national scrutiny, often less professional commentary and mostly minimal advance consultation or publicity. The level of knowledge and practical experience of some specialist domestic family lawyers in many westernised countries across the world is relatively low although increasing. In context, the standard and level of knowledge about international cases in England is much higher than almost every other country and profession across the world.

Despite its small size, England is probably the world’s leading family law jurisdiction for international cases. It has very many and diverse connections around the entire world. Naturally it has very close connections within Europe. It has strong links with North America. It retains close family links with the (existing and former) Commonwealth countries including across Africa, the Caribbean and the Asian subcontinent as well as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and elsewhere. It is home to many families from the Middle East, Russia, China and Southeast Asia and other regions of the world. No other country has the breadth and extent of international families, moreover spread across the whole country and not in just a few big cities.

There is a huge market of work awaiting law practices. The law coming from Brussels and The Hague affecting international families will only increase. The specialist family law practitioner can no longer neglect this very important area of work, affecting many clients of all law firms and barristers’ chambers. The clients of the specialist family law practitioner now expect an ability to deal with the international dimension quickly, knowledgeably and expertly ...

Also available online as part of the International Family Law Online module,  which combines all the international family law content and allows you to access it all in one place with links between related Family Law Report cases.

The International Family Law Practice Online is updated twice a year. The May update includes timely case-law, practice guidance and all changes to relevant source material, including:

  • Changes arising from the regionalisation of divorce centres

  • Case management complexity criteria in respect of financial remedies work

  • Recognition of foreign marriages and divorces

  • Financial provision after an overseas divorce

  • Marital agreements

  • Relocation issues and child abduction

  • Surrogacy

  • Care and placement proceedings involving international families

Request a FREE 14-day trial to the complete Family Law Online service here >>

  • Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Act 1999
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002
  • Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 SI 2010/959, regs 3 to 6 and 12
  • Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985
  • Children Act 1989, Schedule 2, para 19
  • Children and Families Act 2014, Pt 7
  • Civil Partnership Act 2004, ss 212–238, Sch 20
  • Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973
  • Family Law Act 1986
  • Family Law Act 1996, Pt 4A
  • Family Procedure Rules 2010 and Supplementary Practice Directions (extracts relevant to international work)
  • Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008, ss 33, 35, 54
  • Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, ss 1, 9-11
  • Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984, Pt III
  • President’s Guidance – Communicating with the Home Office in Family Proceedings (April 2013)
  • Surrogacy Arrangements Act 1985
  • EU Brussels I Recast 1215/2012
  • EU Brussels II Revised 2201/2003
  • EU Practice Guide for the Application of the New Brussels II Regulation
  • EU Applicable Law Regulation 1259/2010
  • EU Enforcement Order for Uncontested Claims 805/2004
  • EU Legal Aid Directive 2002/8
  • EC Lisbon Treaty 2007, Art 81
  • EU Maintenance Regulation 4/2009
  • EU Mediation Directive 2008/52
  • EU Mutual Recognition of Protection Measures in Civil Matters Regulation 606/2013
  • EU Protection Order (in Criminal Matters) Directive 2011/99
  • EU Service Regulation 1393/2007
  • EU Taking of Evidence Regulation 1206/2001
  • EU Victims' of Crime Directive 2012/29
  • Lugano Convention 2007/712/EC
  • Strasbourg Legal Aid Agreement 1977
  • Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence CETS No: 210 (Istanbul Convention)
  • Council of European 1980 Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children and on Restoration of Custody of Children
  • Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, regs 36 and 37
  • Hague Convention on Child Abduction 1980
  • Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance 2007
  • Guide to Good Practice under the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction: Mediation
  • Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Means for Protection of the Child 1996
  • Explanatory Report on the 1996 Hague Convention
  • Department of Education Advice on 1996 Hague Convention 
  • Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters 1965
  • Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters 1970
  • Emerging Rules Regarding the Development of the International Hague Network of Judges and Draft General Principles for Judicial Communications (the "Emerging Guidance")
  • Cairo Declaration of 17 January 2005
  • UK Pakistan Protocol Child Abduction Protocol
  • Muslim Family Law Ordinance 1961
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
  • Washington Declaration on International Family Relocation 2010
Listen to these short podcasts or watch these short videos to find out more about the book and the chapters.

David Hodson - Recognition of Foreign Marriages and Divorce

David talks about the issue of recognition of a foreign marriage, divorce, nullity or judicial separation, including polygamy in England. It is of fundamental importance for the status of the parties and any children, for possible other proceedings and other aspects of personal and community life. It is often a preliminary in a family law case before deciding on other courses of action. Public policy considerations are strongly to the fore in England endeavouring to recognise foreign marriages and divorces wherever possible.

David Hodson - The European Imperative in Family Law

David discusses how many issues in international family law are now European centric, or at least follow trends created from EU law. A number of laws affecting international families originate from Brussels and many provisions apply between the EU states. This trend will continue and increase.There are now many laws, procedures and professional co-operation within Europe. Understanding the European context is therefore important.

David Hodson - Relocation of Children

David discusses the latest law and practice which is needed to successfully handle any relocation dispute, whether it ends up in court or not. Whether the proposed move is within the United Kingdom or international, the consequence of either allowing or refusing a relocation application is usually of the greatest importance to the parents and children involved.

Lucy Loizou - Trusts in the Foreign Context

Lucy looks at offshore trusts and companies, and some of the most complicated elements in sorting out financial arrangements on divorce.

Sometimes set up to shelter and protect family assets from fiscal and/or third-party claims, thereby working to the financial benefit of the family during the marriage, they backfire on divorce against the claimant and are often a maze of tangled entities.

Moreover, investigating offshore trusts may bring the family lawyer into conflict with highly resistant trustees and trust lawyers in the jurisdiction where the trust is situated.

Lucy Loizou - Freezing Orders in International Context

Lucy reminds us to always take account of the ease with which some parties, with international connections, can shift their assets between countries very quickly. How to obtain orders to maintain the status quo and preserve assets and how injunctions, especially those having worldwide effect, are some of the most draconian and powerful weapons available to the English family court and should be only exercised with considerable care, in appropriate circumstances and mindful of the impact on third parties and international comity.

Lucy Loizou - Schedule 1 Claims and TOLATA


Lucy discusses the latest practice, law and procedure in respect of applications under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 (which provide an important way of ensuring children’s financial needs are met where their parents are unmarried). Also considers the overlap in jurisdiction with settlement claims under the Trust of Land Act 1996, where property is owned abroad.

Lucy Loizou - Marital Agreements


Marital and other family agreements are not, even now, strictly speaking, binding on the English family courts, whether made in England or abroad. This is in stark contrast to many other western family law jurisdictions where they bind the courts, however unfair they may appear at the time of implementation and however inadequate the advice before entering into them. This causes difficulties in a number of cases where parties from abroad expect the English family court to follow the agreement.

Hannah Budd - Financial Claims After a Foreign Divorce


Despite a divorce abroad, the English courts still have power to make a financial order as if the divorce were in England and Wales.

Hannah looks at the discretionary power with distinctive court procedures and how it will be readily used if no adequate financial provision was possible abroad.

Hannah then looks at how the English courts had become reluctant to use this 1984 legislative power. But the Supreme Court in 2010 in Agbaje has restored the previous understanding of this statutory opportunity. The purpose is to alleviate the adverse consequences of no adequate financial provision being made on divorce by foreign court in a situation where the parties had connections with England.

Hannah Budd - Pensions in the International Context 


Hannah discusses how pensions can often be the second most substantial asset of a family, sometimes the most substantial. Individuals who have worked abroad may find that they have built up pensions in various countries. Some pensions are deliberately held abroad. H Budd considers the nature of pensions within an international context, especially enforcement against a foreign pension and enforcement against a UK pension following a foreign divorce settlement.

Helen Blackburn - Child Abduction


Helen discusses this complex area of family law where the international community has shown the greatest co-operation. Practical steps can and should be taken by parents to minimise the possibility of abduction.

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