The UK’s decision to leave the EU could put at risk many of the legal protections currently available to children involved in international family law disputes, a new report has warned.

According to the report by Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights), legal protections around child custody, child abduction and child maintenance could be put at risk for around 10% of all children born in the UK in 2016.
Children’s rights are increasingly being embedded in EU legislation, say researchers. This ensures children’s human rights are protected, respected and fulfilled across EU member states in line with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The report warns that the EU Withdrawal Bill jeopardises these protections.
The report found that an estimated 3.2 million EU citizens currently reside in the UK, many of whom have formed families. In 2016, 15,878 births in England and Wales were to mothers born in another EU state and a UK-born father (2.3% of total births). A further 9,150 births (1.3%) were to a UK-born mother and EU-born father and 44,449 births (6.4%) were to parents both born elsewhere in the EU. Scottish and Northern Irish figures display a similar distribution.
Together is working with national charity Children in Scotland and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland to call for children’s rights to be prioritised in Brexit.
“Family breakdowns can be a confusing and upsetting time for any child or young person,” explained Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People Commissioner Scotland. “We must not compound this by creating uncertainty over key issues such as custody and maintenance where one parent lives in the EU and the other in the UK.”

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