Ruth Cabeza

Call: 1998

"A lawyer who takes command of the court - judges listen to what she has to say as she has gravitas. She has superb intellectual ability and a wonderful knowledge of the law."
Chambers UK Bar 2024

Ruth is a specialist family law practitioner who has been at forefront of developments in adoption and surrogacy case law, she is also an expert in the field of international abduction.

Ruth is a forceful and robust practitioner in court. Her breadth and depth of knowledge and experience across all fields of family law, enables Ruth to provide clients with a clear view on case direction and strategy, whilst also taking into account the emotional context of each case which can often provide the key to unlocking how a matter will be best progressed.

Ruth’s specialities include: international adoption, international surrogacy, international abduction, complex care cases – particularly cases involving overseas placements and/or non-accidental injury, medical treatment orders and financial remedy.

Ruth Cabeza is a part time Deemster for the Isle of Man and sits in the island’s High Court of Justice.



Within the context of public law proceedings, Ruth is frequently instructed to advise on the relevant legal framework applicable to secure the permanent placement of children with extended family members who live outside of the jurisdiction of the court. Ruth provides clear advice in relation to the statutory and regulatory frameworks that governs the placement of a child habitually resident in England outside of the jurisdiction in respect of both adoption orders and orders under the Children Act 1989. Ruth also advises on the extent to which such English orders will be recognised and are capable of enforcement in the country of the carers habitual residence, and the extent to which mirror orders would be required to ensure that the carers are authorised to care for the children under their own domestic law once placed.

However, it is important to note that Ruth is not qualified to give expert advice in relation to the immigration law of any country (including the UK). Furthermore, while able to provide useful generalised information in relation to foreign family law, Ruth is not qualified to practice law in any other jurisdiction and does not hold herself out to be an expert in the Family Law of any jurisdiction outside of England and Wales. Accordingly, while Ruth can advise as to the necessity or otherwise of a mirror order/visa, if one is required, she cannot advise on the domestic law of the foreign state that would govern the relevant application in the foreign state.

In many cases further expert advice on the domestic law of the foreign state is not required, however in cases where expert advice on the immigration law/domestic family law of the other country is necessary, this will need to be obtained separately, and Ruth is often able to assist with experts in international family law in the other state due to her network connections with the IAFL.


To instruct Ruth or for more information…

Call: 020 7353 6961

Practice Areas

Ruth is regularly instructed in public law children work at both first instance and court of appeal level. Acting for local authorities, parents, guardians and intervenors, she has extensive experience in this field and is often instructed in cases that involve one or more of the following complicating factors:

  • Complications in relation habitual residence/jurisdiction
  • Proposals to achieve permanency overseas with foreign relatives
  • Disputes in relation to Article 15 Brussels IIA
  • Fatal injuries to a sibling of the subject children
  • Sexual abuse
  • Serious physical abuse (burns/fractures/head injuries/ritualistic beatings)
  • Medical treatment orders
  • Abduction of looked after children (both under and outside of Hague)
  • The profound deafness of one or both parents
  • Deprivation of Liberty
  • Children over 16
  • Forced marriage of minors
  • Suspected terrorism

 Ruth is well versed in the various international instruments that govern mutual recognition and enforcement of adoption/parental responsibility orders. As a member of IAFL she often well placed to advise on suitable experts when cases involve the law and practice of Family Law outside of England and Wales, including in relation to orders/procedures/timescales/costings for obtaining mirror orders/declarations of enforceability in other jurisdictions.

Notable Public Law Children cases

Salford City Council v W & Ors [2021] EWHC 1689 (Fam) (24 June 2021)
Salford City Council v W & Ors [2021] EWHC 61 (Fam) (19 January 2020)

Inherent jurisdiction (declaratory not children)

M (Special Guardianship Order: Leave To Apply To Discharge) (Rev 1) [2021] EWCA Civ 442
T (A Child : habitual residence) [2021] EWFC 26
A (fact finding, rib injuries), Re [2019] EWFC B89 (30 September 2019)


Re A (Withdrawal of Applications) [2019] EWHC 709 (Fam)

Wardship/protection against FGM and Forced Marriage

S (A Child) [2017] EWCA Civ 249 (24 February 2017)


Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children Foundation NHS Trust v NO & KK & Ors [2017] EWHC 241 (Fam) (14 February 2017)

Inherent jurisdiction children (medical treatment)

A Local Authority v J & Y [2017] EWHC 10 (Fam) (01 February 2017)


Y (Children), Re [2016] EWCA Civ 1091 (08 November 2016)


D (Children), Re [2015] EWCA Civ 409 (30 April 2015)


Re F-T (A child) (2015) EWCA Civ 880


London Borough of Tower Hamlets v D & Ors [2014] EWHC 3901 (Fam) (13 November 2014)


Re C (A Child) [2014] EWCA Civ 128

Care – guidance on proceedings involving profoundly deaf parent

RO v A Local Authority & Ors [2014] EWHC 97 (Fam) (27 January 2014)


D (A Child) [2012] EWHC 4231 (Fam) (14 December 2012)


Ruth has acted for intended parents and guardians in surrogacy cases since 2010 and has been involved in several of the key cases where guidance has been given to the profession. She is able to give sensitive and practical advice on all aspects of obtaining a parental order. She has recently co-authored Surrogacy: Law Practice and Policy published by Lexis Nexis in 2018.

Notable Surrogacy cases

Re: Z (Surrogacy: Step-parent Adoption) [2024] EWFC 20

This is a ground-breaking case – the first of its kind in dealing with a contested application for a step-parent adoption order from a non-biological parent to secure legal parentage of a child born after a traditional surrogacy arrangement.

Re X [2020] EWFC 39 (20 May 2020)
RS v T (Surrogacy: Service, Consent and Payments) [2015] EWFC 22 (13 March 2015)
Re B v C (Surrogacy: Adoption) [2015] EWFC 17 (13 February 2015)
CC v DD [2014] EWHC 1307 (Fam) (14 February 2014)
Re C (Surrogacy: authorisation of payments other than reasonable expenses) [2013] EWHC 2408 (Fam)
Re: IJ (A Child): [2011] EWHC 921 (Fam)

Ruth is sensitive to the complexities that arise out of disputes between parents in relation to their children and seeks to get the heart of her client’s underlying concerns so that where possible workable arrangements can be successfully negotiated, and were a negotiated outcome is not possible she will vigoursly pursue her client’s case at trial.  With over 18 years experience of these cases she is familiar with a very wide range of applications, including disputes involving:

  • child arrangements orders
  • relocation cases (domestic and international)
  • Abduction (within the UK, Hague, non-Hague)
  • Inherent jurisdiction/wardship cases
  • Education
  • Change of name
  • Declarations of parentage

Notable Private Law Children cases

V (Article 21 of the 1980 Hague Convention - fact finding), Re [2023] EWHC 2983 (Fam)

Application by the Father, who resides in Lithuania, for rights of access under Art 21. Fact-finding to consider mother’s allegations of abuse.

Re R (A Child) (Wrongful Retention: Child’s Objections: Discretionary Return) [2023] EWHC 560 (Fam)


Re V and W (Hague Return Order, Lithuania) [2022] EWHC 739 (Fam)


KS v MK [2015] EWHC 3276 (Fam) (29 October 2015)



What the directories say

"She provides authoritative advice that is respected by the court." "Leaves no stone unturned and works incredibly hard."
Chambers UK Bar 2024

‘Ruth has an incisive mind, and her forensic analysis is thorough and dependable.’
Legal 500 UK Bar 2024

“Ruth Cabeza is very bright and absolutely fearless.”
Chambers UK Bar 2023

“She has a way of cutting through what can be very emotive and emotionally difficult cases and focusing in on what's most important.”
Chambers UK Bar 2023

‘Ruth has an encyclopedic knowledge of adoption law and an extremely impressive advocate with a great bedside manner. She is a real star in the field of adoption.’
Legal 500 UK Bar 2023

"A font of all knowledge regarding adoption law, solicitors absolute faith in her representation of their clients."
Legal 500 UK Bar 2022

Related News

Ruth Cabeza in X v X & Anor (Time Barred Adoption) [2024] EWHC 364 (Fam)

Ruth was instructed by The International Family Law Group LLP for the Applicant stepfather in X v X & Anor (Time Barred Adoption) [2024] EWHC 364 (Fam). This case involved…

Ruth Cabeza and Mavis Amonoo-Acquah, instructed on a pro bono basis by Natalie Sutherland and Shaili Gohil-Desai at Burgess Mee, represented the First and Second Applicant in Re: Z (Surrogacy: Step-parent Adoption) [2024] EWFC 20 (30 January 2024)

This case is a groundbreaking case – the first of its kind in dealing with a contested application for a stepparent adoption order from a non-biological parent to secure legal…

Ruth Cabeza in V (Article 21 of the 1980 Hague Convention – fact finding), Re [2023] EWHC 2983 (Fam) (14 August 2023)

Ruth Cabeza instructed by Dawson Cornwell to represent the Mother in a Fact Finding hearing. The application by the Father, who resides in Lithuania, for rights of access under Art…


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