With freedom of movement throughout the European Union, the question is often asked as to whether English Courts have the power to deal with disputes regarding parental responsibility in respect of a child with foreign connections.

Cases disputing the location of where a child should be resident when both parents live in different countries are becoming increasingly popular, and a difficult scenario for courts to deal with.

The law now says that a child’s residency should be in a place where they have some form of social and family environment. Factual analysis of the child’s life will be looked at to determine a best location for the child and in turn, make a decision.

Habitual Residence is a standard used by the courts to determine which law should be applied where there is a dispute between parents.  The meaning of habitual residence is “shaped in the light of the best interests of the child, in particular on the criterion of proximity” – which means the practical connection between the child and the country concerned.  Whilst you may think the best place for a child to be is with the parent that is caring for him/her, this is not always the case and the court are keen to ensure it’s the child’s integration into the home that is in consideration.  A child will rarely have no habitual residence and it’s the quality of a child’s previous residence rather than quantity that is considered. The key thing to remember during these disputes is that decisions are made in a child’s best interest, not the parents disputes.

If you need legal advice in relation to children matters, or indeed in relation to any aspect of family law, please contact us to speak to one of our family law solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or complete an online contact form.