Brexit 'could see parents abduct children and take them overseas'
Brexit could lead to a rise in the number of parents abducting their children and taking them overseas, a law firm has claimed.
Lawyer Cara Nuttall, a partner at JMW Solicitors, said the firm had already seen a spike in inquiries from parents about disputes over travel plans and applications for dual citizenship, as well as fears their children would not be returned home from overseas visits.
She said the Manchester-based firm had received 30% more inquiries of that nature in the three months to the end of June compared to the same period last year.
Ms Nuttall, who specialises in children matters - including abductions, said: "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.
"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."
She said the firm expected to see even more of these cases over the summer months.
She said: "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."
Ms Nuttall said the framework in place to deal with parental abductions in Europe might not stay in place after Brexit.
She said: "We simply do not know what the replacement measures will be, nor how well they will work."