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US/UK holiday and how to ensure kids return?

by PJ / Posted 08/03/2011 / Updated 15/03/2011

I am from the UK and my wife is from the US and taking the kids back there on holiday this summer. She has not settled at all well and I´m afraid that she will go there and not come back with the kids. I don´t want to stop her (or the kids) visiting but is there anything I can do to ensure the kids definitely come back?

They have been here since August, established residency and I have a letter from last summer with my wife´s permission to have moved here.


From Rebecca / Posted: 15/03/2011
Hi PJ, as it stands at the moment, your children are "habitually resident" in the UK, so it doesn´t matter if they were born here on in the US. I´m not sure if you used to live in the US with your wife and children and have now moved here as a family, but as it stands, the children have habitual residence in the UK which appears to have been agreed by both of you last year. However, just because a family move to another country and agreed on it at the time doesn´t mean to say that all will be hunky dory for ever and people won´t change their minds or think they´ve made a mistake, and just because both the UK and the US speak English, it doesn´t mean that your wife has not moved to a foreign country, and it is hard to adapt to these situations. If your wife is struggling here and feeling homesick then it is understandable that she may wish to return home for a visit, but this does not necessarily mean that she won´t come back again. If she doesn´t come back (with the children) then you can file a Hague Convention case under the ´unlawful retention´ part of the act, and eventually the law will come together in your favour and the children will be ordered to return here and your wife will accompany them (under duress) as she will not want to be separated from them either. In order to avoid any of this it may be necessary to sit down and have a real heart to heart about your relationship and whether you would consider returning to the US as a family if she is so unhappy. The alternative is a long winded court case if she wishes to return to the US with the children and you object and want to keep them here. This could lead to a very complex matter and I speak from experience, as I moved to Australia 7 years ago with my partner and our son, the agreement being that it would be for a 2 year trial period and if I didn´t like it there we would all return as a family. However, once there the goal posts were moved, things didn´t go to plan and my partner (now ex) refused point blank to return to the UK and I was left stranded in a foreign country on broken promises. What followed was a two year nightmare that was expensive and traumatic, so I hope for all your sakes this doesn´t happen to your family.
There is nothing in place that can ensure your children definitely come back as no one can physically put then on the plane, but if they don´t come back then the law is on your side.

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