More parents could abduct their children and take them abroad because of Brexit, a law firm has claimed.
Cara Nuttall, a partner at JMW Solicitors, said the firm had already seen a spike in enquiries from parents scared that their children would not be returned home from overseas visits by their co-parent.
There has also been a spike in enquiries about disputes over travel plans and applications for dual citizenship, where one parent is from the EU.
She said the Manchester-based firm had received 30% more enquiries of that nature in the three months to the end of June, compared with the same period last year.
‘One year on from the referendum, it’s clear that Brexit is having an impact on family life where one or both parents is from the EU,’ Nuttall said.
‘We have seen a significant increase over recent weeks in the number of parents in rocky relationships, or who are already separated or divorced, seeking advice about their rights to relocate or to stop the other parent from travelling because they are scared they may not come back with the children.
‘We’ve also seen a rise in disputes about applications for foreign nationality and travel documents for children entitled to dual citizenship in fragile international families.
‘Some foreign parents feel strongly they want to maximise their chances of being able to return home if things don’t work out, while British parents are concerned about them doing exactly that, and want to make it harder for them to take the children should they wish to do so.’
Nuttall said the firm expected to see even more of these cases over the summer months, and increasingly as we approach the 2019 deadline for leaving the EU.
She continued: ‘It’s clear that the uncertainty caused by Brexit has led to discussions in these families about the future, leaving some parents feeling extremely vulnerable when they realise they have diverging views.
‘It seems some foreign nationals are not certain they want to remain here in the long-term, especially against a backdrop of anti-European feeling.
‘They’re worried that if they don’t go soon, they may end up stuck here if they want to see their children grow up. The inevitable temptation is to consider taking matters into their own hands, and just go.’
There is a framework in place to deal with parental abductions across Europe, but it only applies to the EU. So, after we leave the union, that vital framework may not stay in place.
‘We simply do not know what the replacement measures will be, nor how well they will work,’ Nuttall warned.
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