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The Family Procedure (Amendment No 4) Rules 2012, SI 2012/2806, came into force at the end of last year amending the Family Procedure Rules 2010, SI 2010/2955 (FPR 2010). These changes are significant for international family law as they enable the operation in England and Wales of the 2007 Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other forms of Family Maintenance (the 2007 Convention) on the acquisition and enforcement of family maintenance.
The 2007 Convention revises provisions in the Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions relating to Maintenance Obligations 1973 and UN Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance 1956. Note that the 2007 Convention includes provision for applications for child maintenance, for a child is aged under 21, and also spousal support (linked to child maintenance and stand alone) ie it is wider than the previous provisions on enforcement.
At first glance the changes to international maintenance are complex despite the stated goal of simplicity - if you practice in this area, the new provisions are worth a detailed and careful consideration.
The 2007 Convention will be concluded (ratified) by the EU on behalf of all member states on a date after 10 December 2012 and that conclusion will bind all member states (except for Denmark) to apply the Convention. The intention is that the 2007 Convention will provide a simpler, quicker and more efficient global system for the common enforcement of family maintenance. The 2007 Convention will apply in the UK on the first day of the month following three complete months after the ratification date. Note that the 2007 Convention is global and applies to all Contracting States (not just the EU) – the dates of implementation will vary so it is worth checking individual countries as appropriate.
In preparation for the 2007 Convention, the International Recovery of Maintenance (Hague Convention 2007) (Rules of Court) Regulations 2012, SI 2012/1770 came into force on the 31 July 2012. These regulations made amendments to the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980 and the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 to ensure the powers to make procedural rules are wide enough to support the operation in England an
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Geraldine is Head of LexisPSL Family. She was admitted as a solicitor in 1992 and was in practice for 15 years, most recently as a partner and head of the family team at Hart Brown, a large Surrey firm.
Geraldine writes for Butterworths Family Law Service and is a past editor of the Resolution Review. She has been published in the New Law Journal, the Law Society Gazette and the District Judges’ Bulletin as well as in the national press including the Times and the Telegraph.
When in practice she was a member of the Law Society Family and Children Panels, and an accredited Resolution Specialist with a focus on advanced financial provision and pensions. A past Resolution regional secretary and press officer, Geraldine also contributed chapters to the Resolution publications, International Aspects of Family Law (3rd Edition 2009) and The Modern Family (2012).
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