Sunday, 13 January 2013

International Child Abduction and Legal Aid

The Government is beta testing its new legal aid eligibility calculator (which can be accessed via our Family Law Application).

Although not mentioned as eligible within the Government's Legal Aid Calculator, applications for the return of a child (where unlawfully removed to or unlawfully retained in a foreign country which is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction or the Brussels II Revised Regulations) may qualify for legal aid. In response to this specific question, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office assured us:
'Legal Aid provision is made in line with the requirements of both conventions. An application made in a UK court will therefore be in scope. An application made within another signatory country will be funded by that state, subject to the scheme operated by that country. This will continue to be the case after the legal aid reforms are implemented in 2013."
To check where a country is a member of either the Hague Convention or Brussels II Revised Regulations, you can use the following resources:

If the country to which a child has been abducted is not a signatory to the Hague Convention or Brussels II, the UK parent must pursue matters via the courts in the foreign country. The UK Government does not assist with a parent's foreign legal costs, travel and accommodation to secure the return of a British Child who has been unlawfully abducted. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office replied on this point:
'In relation to your question about parent's foreign legal costs, in general terms no funding will be available under the legal aid scheme'.
Advice can be found, in these circumstances, by contacting the charity Reunite.

You may also wish to read our guide:

Do we believe that the British Government should fund the legal costs of any parent seeking the return of a British subject child who has been abducted abroad? We struggle to think what civilised person could not...