Housing Law WeekFamily Law WeekBerkeley Lifford Hall Accountancy ServicesAlphabiolabs

Experts’ Group recommends new Hague Convention on recognition and enforcement of family agreements

New instrument would build on the 1980, 1996 and 2007 Hague Conventions

The Experts' Group on cross-border recognition and enforcement of agreements in family disputes involving children recently met in The Hague under the chairmanship of Pr. Paul Beaumont from the University of Aberdeen.

The mandate of the Experts' Group is to develop a non-binding "navigation tool" to provide best practices on how an agreement made in the area of family law involving children can be recognised and enforced in a foreign State under the 1980 Child Abduction, 1996 Child Protection and 2007 Child Support Conventions. After the discussions on a draft "navigation tool", the Experts' Group agreed to recommend to the Council on General Affairs and Policy of the Hague Conference to develop a new Hague Convention that would build on, and add value to, the above mentioned Conventions.

The Group acknowledged that family agreements involving children ("family agreements") are generally in the best interests of children and should be promoted internationally. Such agreements are often concluded as a result of mediation, conciliation or similar processes. The Experts' Group recognises that the best interests of a child is enhanced when such an agreement can be more easily rendered enforceable in one State and more readily recognised and enforced in other States.

While the existing Hague Family Conventions encourage the amicable resolution of disputes involving children, they do not contemplate the use of "package agreements" (ie family agreements related to custody, access, relocation and/or child support and which may include spousal support and other financial matters, such as property issues) and do not provide a simple, certain or efficient means for their enforcement. From the Group's experience it is recognised that such agreements are increasingly frequently used. Very often the matters covered require the simultaneous application of more than one Hague Family Convention while some elements of those package agreements are not within the scope of any of the existing Hague Family Conventions. This creates difficulties for the enforcement of package agreements.

The Experts' Group's work on the navigation tool has confirmed that much benefit could be gained from adding value to the existing Hague Family Conventions by developing a new binding instrument in order to facilitate family agreements in Contracting States.

The benefits of such an instrument include:

Therefore the Experts' Group recommends to the Council to develop a new Hague Convention that would build on, and add value to, the 1980, 1996 and 2007 Hague Conventions, and be developed with a view to attracting as many States as possible.