Disputes Involving Child Abduction

Deciding where your child should live after a divorce, separation or relationship breakdown can be a difficult process, but parents should never take a child to another country without the consent of the other parent. To do this is abduction and a criminal offence.

What is child abduction?

Child abduction has taken place if:

  • Your child is under 16
  • They have been taken from the country where they usually reside or have been wrongfully held in a different country (e.g. they have gone on a holiday with their other parent that you consented to, but have since been kept there)
  • You were involved in your child's life at the time they were taken.

If this is the case, then you will be able to begin proceedings to secure your child's safe return.

The Hague Convention

The Hague Convention is in place to assist the safe return of an abducted child, and the UK is one of many countries to have signed the agreement. If your child has been taken to one of these countries, it will help secure the return of your child as quickly as possible.

If your child has been taken to a country where there is no international agreement, an order can be obtained from the English court which can be used to instruct child abduction solicitors in the country where your child is.

What to do if your child has been abducted

If your child has been abducted, contact the police immediately and provide them with as much information as possible and provide recent photographs. If your child has not yet left the country, the police can notify all UK ports to hopefully prevent the abduction. If your child has already been removed from the country, the police can work with Interpol to assist in finding them.

If your child has been abducted it is naturally going to be a distressing time for you with a lot of anxiety and worry. It is vital that you immediately seek legal advice to work with the police in tracking down your child and ensuring their safe return. Forbes Solicitors have a vast degree of experience in pursuing child abduction cases and their team of specialist Children's Law lawyers are experts in ensuring the safe return of abducted children. We can also advise you on how to fund your case.

If you suspect your child has been abducted or is about to be taken out of the country without your consent, contact us immediately on 0800 689 1058 so that we can advise you on the best course of action.

You can also contact Reunite, a registered charity who specialise in helping parents and families whose child has been abducted.

Preventing child abduction

As mentioned above, if the risk of abduction is immediate, the police can issue a port alert to all UK ports and airports. If this is done quickly with appropriate information, it can be very successful, but this is dependent on you and how much information you can provide.

In less immediate cases, there are other steps that can be taken either by you or by your solicitor. These include:

  • Prohibited Steps Order - a court order that prevents the other parent removing your child from the UK without your consent.
  • Contact restrictions - more rigorous restrictions are placed on the time that is spent with the other parent when they see your child e.g. supervised visits only.
  • Security - suitable in cases where a child has to travel with the other parent, but there is reason for concern that they will be not be returned to the UK. This involves a bond or charge which gives a financial incentive for the other parent to stick to the terms of your agreement.
  • Surrender of passport(s) - if your child has their own passport, or is mentioned on the other parent's passport, a court order can be obtained that requests the surrender of that particular passport.
  • Notify the embassy or passport office - this step prevents further/new passports for your child being issued. This can be requested via the Identity and Passport Service or a court order can be obtained.

If you suspect your child is at risk of abduction, or they have already been abducted, contact the specialist team at Forbes Solicitors as a matter of urgency on 0800 689 1058 for appropriate legal advice in order to keep your child safe and with you.

11 Jan 2019



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