What is child abduction?

Not to be confused with kidnapping, whereby an individual is taken by a stranger: child abduction can be said to have occurred when one parent takes a child out of the country without the other parent’s agreement, even if only for a holiday.

The main exception to this is in cases where the resident parent takes the child or children out of the country for a holiday lasting less than one month before returning to the UK.

However, child abduction is unfortunately on the rise, mainly due to the fact that cheaper travel and greater freedom of movement have enabled more relationships between people with different home countries than ever before.

It’s often the case that, once a relationship has broken down irretrievably, one partner may wish to return to their home country, taking the children with them.

Naturally, this can create a very difficult situation, where one parent can feel trapped in a foreign country, while the other fears losing access to their children forever. In either case, the needs of the child or children need to come first, which is the Family Court’s main concern when issues like these arise.

Can I prevent child abduction from occurring?

While our family law experts often recommend that a court order be sought only when routes such as mediation have failed, the prevention of child abduction is one area in which pre-emptive action may be called for.

So if you have a child or children in England or Wales and fear that a former partner or spouse wishes to take them abroad to live, it may be possible to seek a Prohibited Steps Order in court to pre-empt this possibility, without necessarily notifying the other party first

Is abducting my own child a criminal offence?

While laws vary between different jurisdictions around the world, the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction operates between more than 80 countries.

This convention defines what constitutes abduction and sets a default position that usually means the return of the children to the country where they previously lived. You can also expect stern penalties, including fines and imprisonment, if found guilty of child abduction.

That’s why, whether you wish to relocate to another country with your children, or prevent them from being taken elsewhere, your first step should always be to seek legal advice from our international family law experts.

In addition to helping with urgent action on issues such as seeking a Prohibited Steps Order, we are also happy to advise you on other courses of action including Mediation and the other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution.

You can talk to one of our friendly experts today by calling 020 8771 5000 or contact us online today and we will call you