An important Child Abduction case will be considered by the Supreme Court tomorrow.
The Supreme Court will consider “Rights of Custody” in the context of grandparents who were caring for the child in question, by agreement with the mother of the child, who then abruptly ended the arrangement and relocated.
Under the Hague Convention, which is an international convention which deals with child abduction, anyone asking the Court to consider whether a child has been wrongfully moved between countries and if so, to order that the child be returned, must first demonstrate that they have rights of custody and have been exercising them.
Anyone who cannot demonstrate Rights of Custody cannot use the summary return remedy which aims to ensure children are returned to their usual place of residence as quickly as possible.
There is no uniform definition of Rights of Custody, and what constitutes such rights has been the subject of case law and debate for many years. In English law, and in many other jurisdictions, grandparents do not automatically have rights to see a grandchild, nor to have an input in the arrangements for their care. Grandparents can however acquire certain rights if Orders, such as a Residence Order, are in place, though those rights only last for as long as any such order is in force.
The Courts decision will mark an interesting and important analysis of the kind of practical arrangements which are likely to lead to Rights of Custody in more unusual family arrangements, where the child’s primary carer(s) is not one of their parents.
Cara Nuttall is a Family Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
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