Considering the subject matter, the 2014 Supreme Court judgment in Re K (a child) (Northern Ireland)  UKSC 29 caused few ripples in the general consciousness of the family bar. What practitioners need to take away from this judgment is that they should be advising clients without PR for their children to obtain the same without delay, especially where the Mother is a foreign national or has ties abroad.
The Hague Convention & Brussels II (revised) provide comfort to us family lawyers. We know, even if we’re not experts in the field, that children can be swiftly brought back from Hague/Brussels countries and so often we use that mantra to pacify our clients who have nebulous (or otherwise) concerns about abduction.
The protection offered by these international instruments is significant. If a person has been exercising custody rights the Court has to return the child (subject to a few exceptions) to their country of habitual residence if the abduction took place less than 12 months prior to the application. Rights of custody are distinct from rights of access; the latter doesn’t afford you the same protection in respect of mandatory orders for return.
So, ‘rights of custody’. What does this mean? If you have PR then that’s you sorted, you have custody rights. However, for Father’s without PR the water can become murky. It has always been argued that these Fathers had ‘inchoate rights’, and that by the fact of fulfilling a parental role a person could avail himself of the protection offered by the convention. Post Re K here are the requirements the SC says applicants need to fulfil to be exercising rights of custody;
So there we have it, readers. Rights of custody for Father’s without PR explained in a few, easy steps.
Better make that PR application now, hey?