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An interesting new report from the Office of the Head of International Family Justice for England & Wales has revealed a massive increase in the number of international family disputes over the past few years.

The Office acts as a “centre of expertise and helpdesk for general enquiries in the field of international family law for the judiciary and practitioners in this jurisdiction and overseas”. While it is an English body, its findings are of interest around the world.

The report – the Office’s annual report for 2012 – reveals that last year the Office saw a 40.5% increase in requests for assistance from lawyers, governments, courts and charities in the UK and around the world. This comes on top of a 96% rise in requests between 2010 and 2011.

There has also been an increase in the number of different jurisdictions that the Office has been dealing with over the year. This now stands at 71 – up 40% on 2011.

The Office highlights globalisation as one of the main reasons for the growing number of international family cases worldwide.

Other interesting statistics thrown up by the report include:

  • Outgoing requests outweigh those coming in from abroad, and cover the full range of family disputes. Most relate to abduction or relocation.
  • Most incoming requests deal with public and private law cases relating to children, although there has been a recent rise in the requests relating to maintenance enforcement.
  • 50% of the incoming requests came from another European country, 15.4% from the Middle East and Asia and 13.8% from the Caribbean and North, Central and South America.

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