Find out more about CFAB’s Legal Advice Service

June 2021

What is the CFAB Legal Advice Service?

For over 65 years, we have been offering a wide range of services, covering both private and public law cases, in a variety of languages and with over one hundred countries. Across the tens of thousands of cases we have worked on, we have seen a significant lack of legal understanding of what happens when children are placed with relatives overseas and how best to support families outside of a UK jurisdiction. The dire ramifications of local authorities not receiving sound legal advice are illustrated in this case involving Bermuda

We are introducing a Legal Advice Service to ensure the best intentions for children are reflected legally when they arrive in destination countries. As a member of the International Social Service network, we not only have access to a network of legal advisors around the world, but we are also an Accredited Commonwealth Organisation and regularly attend meetings within the Commonwealth network.

CFAB will be able provide legal advice to Local Authorities in England and Wales on the following areas:

  • The operation of the 1996 Hague Convention and Brussels IIa in care proceedings;
  • The impact of Brexit on care proceedings.
  • Legal options for protecting children with links to ‘third states’ which are not 1996 Hague Convention Contracting States (for example, Nigeria or India). This often includes advice on overseas kinship placements.
  • Legal frameworks surrounding the placement and post-placement support of children with kin overseas.
  • Case law and guidance on the operation of care proceedings with an international element.

CFAB’s Legal Advice Service respects your privacy by not holding any personal information that is not strictly necessary for the provision of our services. We will hold any personal data we do need to collect securely, and for no longer than necessary. For more information on how we manage information, please see our Terms of Business.

Who runs the Legal Advice Service?

Maria Wright is a solicitor with expertise in children’s law with an international element. She is also a doctoral researcher, currently completing a PhD into care proceedings with an international element. Maria worked as a solicitor in private practice for 7 years representing clients in a wide range of matters encompassing international child abduction, jurisdictional disputes concerning children, wardship, committal, forced marriage, and public and private law proceedings. You can view her latest contribution to Community Care here.

What sort of issues will CFAB's Legal Advice Service be able to help with?

Below are some example questions that we are able to help with:

  • A vulnerable child has been taken overseas – what legal steps could be taken to secure their return?
  • What legal steps can be taken in the UK to make sure an order about a child is enforceable in another country?
  • What is the impact of Brexit on arrangements for placing a child overseas?
  • There is a vulnerable child who has only been present in the UK for a short time – can any legal steps be taken to protect them?
  • A young person at risk of FGM / Forced Marriage has been taken overseas, what legal steps can be taken to secure their return?
  • A pregnant person has travelled overseas, and care proceedings were due to be issued when the baby was born – what steps can be taken to ensure the baby is safe?
  • Can a child be placed overseas on an interim basis to ‘test’ a kinship placement?
  • Will an adoption order made in the UK be recognised in another country?

Who should use the CFAB Legal Advice Service?

This service is intended primarily for local authority legal teams, guardians, judges and agencies with responsibility for children who have family overseas. This service is not intended for law students or children, who may wish to instead use Coram Children’s Legal Centre. Parents may wish to contact Child Law Advice or Reunite.

Arrangements for Accessing the Service

1. Local Authorities can send a brief enquiry by email to

2. Solicitor will call back within 24 hours to establish if this is an area where CFAB can provide advice. If so, relevant case details will be collected and recorded on CFAB’s system.

3. Following this phone call, the client will be provided with terms of business and asked to confirm their acceptance of the terms by email.

4. Written advice will be provided within 7 days unless particular expedition is required, via egress switch. It is not anticipated that the solicitor will usually need access to case papers.

5. Any follow up questions will be sent by the client within a week thereafter the case will be closed.