Rise in global family disputes

A new report has revealed a dramatic rise in cross-border family legal disputes referred to a UK judge who offers global assistance in such cases.

Mother: It doesn't get any better, I stay strong for her

Nearly one in three babies in England and Wales have a foreign-born parent, which has led to a ten-fold increase in cross-border child custody and abduction cases in the past a decade.

Six-year-old Elsa Salama is one of those cases, she was snatched from a holiday apartment in Sharm El Sheikh were she had been visiting her Egyptian father's family.

Naomi Button, Elsa Salama's mother Credit: Daybreak

Her mother Naomi has had no information of her daughter's whereabouts and does now know whether Elsa is alive and well.

Speaking to Daybreak she said: "It doesn't get any better, each day is just as hard, and I focus on the future, and I focus on trying to find her and bringing her home and bringing her home to what she remembers, so I stay strong for her."

Largest number of cross-border cases relate to Poland

The head of the authority that deals with cross-border legal disputes, Lord Justice Thorpe, has said that the largest number of cases relate to Poland, followed by Pakistan and Spain.

He said that co-operation between countries on family law was needed due to "increasing movement of persons across borders, and the ever rising number of family units which are truly international".

Lord Justice Thorpe's office acts as a help desk for judges and lawyers at home and abroad who have seen their cases stalled and delayed because two countries' legal systems are involved.

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Rise is due to increase in cases and greater awareness

The latest report from the Office of the Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales has found a steep increase in the number of cross-border disputes between parents over child custody.

Edward Bennett, a lawyer at the Office, said the rise was down to two factors:

The first is the ever increasing number of international family cases coming before the courts, necessitating assistance from an overseas judge or vice versa.

The second is the increasing awareness amongst judges and practitioners throughout the world of the service that the Office provides and the benefits it can bring.

– Edward Bennett, lawyer