‘A Practical Guide to International Parental Child Abduction Law (England and Wales)’ by Onyója Momoh Ph.D.


Paperback: 978-1-914608-79-7
Published: August 2023
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International parental child abduction is the wrongful removal or retention of a child across national borders, without the consent of those with parental responsibility or court permission. It is generally contrary to the welfare of a child to be uprooted in such a manner, and thus it is in the interest of that child to be returned to the country of his or her habitual residence so that issues relating to custody or access can be resolved there.

A Practical Guide to International Parental Child Abduction Law (England and Wales) provides a grounding on the law and practice in return proceedings, encompassing interactions between Hague Contracting States (including member States of the European Union) and non-Convention jurisdictions. Notwithstanding the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of an era for EU instruments such as the Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 (now repealed by the 2019 Regulation), in this jurisdiction, the UK remains a part of an international framework of treaty obligations independent of EU Laws.

Pursuant to the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985, the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the legal framework for addressing ‘Convention’ parental child abduction cases, and along with a number of domestic laws, the aim is to protect children from the harmful effects of child abduction across frontiers. It is hoped that the book will guide readers through key topics such as jurisdiction, procedure, applicable law, and enforcement, looking at these through the distinguishing lens of Convention versus non-Convention cases. The book will also explore salient issues around the voice of the child, objections to return, protective measures, other remedies available under the 1980 Hague convention, and mediation.


Dr Onyója Momoh is a recognised expert in the field of international family law, specialising in cross-border children proceedings. She was called to the Bar in 2010 (Gray’s Inn) and is consistently ranked as a leading barrister in the Legal 500 UK for children law since 2017. Onyója undertook her LLM, Ph.D., and post-doctoral research (EU-funded POAM project) all in the area of international parental child abduction and the protection of children across international frontiers. Alongside practice, she teaches private international law (family law) at the University of Aberdeen and has published book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, prepared country and expert reports, as well as delivered training and lectures around the world.

In recent years, Onyója has engaged in high level advisory and advocacy activities within Government ministries (with a particular interest in Nigeria, and sub-Saharan Africa), the judiciary, and charities abroad, as well as an invited expert presenting at forums such as the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the European Commission and the UK House of Lords Justice and Home Affairs Committee.


Chapter One – Introduction
Chapter Two – Child Abductions to and from England and Wales
Chapter Three – The Operation of the 1980 Hague Convention
Chapter Four – Preliminary Points under Article 3
Chapter Five – Pleading an Exception to Return
Chapter Six – The Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court
Chapter Seven – Alternative Dispute Resolution
Chapter Eight – Trans-frontier Contact
Chapter Nine – Some Current Issues
Chapter Ten – Concluding Remarks


I met Onyója on my first visit to Aberdeen University and noted her talent. She has the advantage of being at the same time both an academic and a practicing member of the Bar. That gives her a balanced perspective broader than she would have were she just an academic or just a practicing barrister. That strength is manifest from this succinct guide. Busy lawyers want a guide that is above all practical and not overburdened by too much analysis of lofty authorities. The 1980 Hague Convention is essentially a procedural tool to achieve the return of the abducted child to the jurisdiction of habitual residence. Arguably States party to the Convention have been guilty of lapsing too readily into an improper review of welfare issues. Arguably the most distinguished judges have been tempted to theorise too much in what should be a straightforward domain. This handbook avoids such pitfalls and rightly focuses on what the generalist family lawyer should do when confronted with a Convention case. I do not doubt that it has a useful place on many a lawyer’s bookshelf.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Mathew Thorpe
Former Lord Justice of Appeal (England and Wales),
Inaugural Head of International Family Justice for England and Wales and Vice-President of the Family Division
July 2023