Abandoned Spouses

Abandoned Spouses

There is a significant number of cases where an allegation is made, usually by the mother, that she has been abandoned abroad without the documents which she needed to re-enter the jurisdiction of England and Wales. The child of the family remains in this jurisdiction, usually with the father. The father argues that the mother has in fact travelled abroad abandoning the child with the father.

In such cases urgent action is needed to ensure that the mother seeks legal advice at the earliest opportunity and does everything that she can in order to re-enter the jurisdiction. Usually Wardship proceedings can be commenced whilst the mother is outside the jurisdiction and orders obtained in the High Court to assist the mother to regain entry into the jurisdiction. It is important to note that there is often an overlap with immigration law in such matters.

Dawson Cornwell’s case of Re A (Children) [2019] EWCA Civ 74 established that courts should not take a narrow approach to the issue of “stranding”. The procedure in cases of abandoned spouses is usually a fact finding hearing will take place to determine whether the mother’s allegation of abandonment has been made out.

On 31 January 2024, new immigration rules came into force that allow victims of domestic abuse who are abandoned overseas to apply to re-enter the UK after domestic abuse related relationship breakdown. Here we have a link to a recording of a training session organised by Rights of Women with, amongst other things, a summary of the recent changes, a link to the relevant guidance and form and a list of sources of support. Our partner Sulema Jahangir spoke at this training session on abandoned spouses and the law in England & Wales.

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