Discussions begin over new international treaty on family law matters

A specialist panel has supported the idea of a new Hague Convention, which would make it easier to enforce family law agreements across different jurisdictions.

At present there are three international agreements which cover family law matters: the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the Convention on Parental Responsibility and Protection of Children and the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.

However, the last of these treaties was agreed a decade ago and none of the three existing treaties address longer term family arrangements, such as those relating to child maintenance payments or contact.

There are also concerns that while the current Conventions encourage the amicable resolution of disputes, there are still certain matters straddling nation borders which prove difficult to enforce.

With this in mind, the Experts’ Group recently met in the Netherlands to discuss the best way forward.

The meeting was chaired by Professor Paul Beaumont, from the University of Aberdeen, a noted expert on international law.

The general consensus is that while any new agreement should protect the best interests of the child or children at the centre of a case, parents should have the opportunity to choose a legal system which has a substantial connection to the child.

Following the meeting, the Experts’ Group made the formal recommendation that work on the new Convention should get underway and efforts made to involve as many countries as possible in the process.

Rebecca Amboaje, a Partner in OGR Stock Denton’s Family department, said: “The intention of the group is to provide a simple and efficient means to enforce agreements. This is much needed in the increasingly international manner of marriages.

“A Convention which is based on simple and best practices and which provides for how a financial agreement involving children can be recognised and enforced in a foreign State is very much a positive aim. If an agreement or order made in one State can be more readily recognised and enforced in another State then a clear message would be promoted across those member states and would hopefully encourage other states to join.

“Anything which protects the best interests of the child, and which allows the parents to choose where their agreement should be enforced will be attractive to many countries and I hope the Expert Group’s efforts are fruitful.  The problem is, will such a sensible and practical idea be made into law by member states?”

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