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Child Abduction

A child taken over an international border away from their place of habitual residence without the permission of those with Parental Responsibility is International Child Abduction

The Hague Convention & European Convention is to assist to return the child to the Court jurisdiction from which he or she has been abducted to the child’s place of habitual residence.

This can be refused under some circumstances including:

  • If it can be proved that the person or institution having the care of the child did give their consent to the removal or was not exercising the custody rights at the time of removal.
  • There is a risk that return could expose the child to grave risk of physical or psychological harm.
  • If a child has been wrongfully removed for more than one year in exceptional cases it can be argued that the child is settled in their new environment and removal would not be in their best interests.
  • In some cases if the child has reached sufficient maturity and states they do not wish to be returned this can be prohibitive

People required to give their consent would be the mother, the father (if he has parental responsibility), guardian, special guardian or anyone who has the child living with them or has permission from the Court.

Tracing and returning a child from a non-Hague Convention country is more difficult since there may be very little in the way of protocol to assist.

In all cases of parental child abduction one should first contact the police, an experienced family solicitor and Reunite.

In addition the Child Abduction Section of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on 0207 008 0878 (office hours) or 0207 008 1500 (out of office hours).

Where a child has been taken to a non-Hague Convention country apply for residence and permission to bring your child home in the oversees Court rather than in your country of residence.

The Foreign Office can offer assistance.

Consideration should be given to applying for Residence and prohibited steps order under the Children Act 1989 to determine which parent will primarily look after a child and to stop a child being taken out of the country without prior permission

If there is a very serious threat that a child will be abducted in the next 48 hours

  • Contact the Police immediately
  • Contact the ICACU on 0207 9117045
  • Contact IPS Passport Advice on 0300 222 000
  • Contact our family law team on 01483 375767 for more help
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