Do you feel strongly one way or the other about going back to the country where you were living?
You must never feel pressured by anyone to do or say anything you are not comfortable with but if you DO want to have a say you can find out how to here.
Have you heard of Cafcass? They are an organisation who listen to children and young people and tell the court what they think and feel. Here is a link to their website: https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/
In England & Wales there are 3 possible ways for children and young people to have a say in the Hague Convention case. You can:
- Speak to a Cafcass social worker and tell them how you feel and what you want, and they pass it on to the judge
- Ask Cafcass if you can speak to the judge directly (this isn’t always possible)
- Ask an international family lawyer to represent you in court (this isn’t always possible)
About the Cafcass meeting: You will go to London and meet with the Cafcass social worker for about an hour. They will ask you how you feel about returning to the other country. Just tell them what YOU think. It’s not about which parent you’d most like to live with, just the country. If you feel strongly either way you must tell them and say why. Sometimes they ask if you’d like to write a letter to the judge. The judge is interested in what you have to say but the final decision is up to them. A bit like in a football game – the referee’s decision is final and you might not agree with it.
About speaking to the judge: You can ask your Cafcass worker whether you can speak directly to the judge. Sometimes this is possible and sometimes not, this depends on the judge and on Cafcass’ decision. If you do speak to the judge you would go with the Cafcass worker and they would write everything down. What you say would be shared with the court and your parents. The judge will listen to your point of view but would have to base the final decision on all the evidence which is given in court.
About getting your own lawyer: It is unusual for young people to get their own lawyer but it is possible in special circumstances. If you are a teenager and you feel strongly that your point of view is different than your parents and want it put forward separately in court, you can contact a specialist lawyer and ask if they would represent you.
The lawyer would ask the court if it is possible for you to join in the court case. The court can refuse if they think your view is already being represented by one parent or if Cafcass would do a better job of telling them your views.
If you would like to have your own lawyer, it is best that you contact the lawyer yourself as this shows you’re grown up enough to know what you want. You will receive free legal support so you would not need to pay, unless you have savings or income. Ask the lawyer to help you get the legal aid.
Click the button below to find a list of lawyers who are experienced at representing Young People through Hague Convention cases. These lawyers are all members of CALA who is the ‘Child Abduction Lawyers Association’.
The information here is general information not legal advice. We have fact checked this guide with expert lawyers and social workers and believe it to be correct at the time of publishing.