Dealing with international child abduction

It is the nightmare of many separated parents: the other parent takes your child to another country without your permission and refuses to return them. What can you do to prevent international child abduction, and to get your child back if it has already happened?

If your child has not yet been removed from this country then there are a number of steps that you can take to prevent their removal, including:

• Obtaining a child arrangements order stating that the child should live with you.

• Obtaining an order from the court prohibiting the other parent from removing the child from the country.

• Contacting the Passport Office to request them not to grant a passport to the child without your permission.

• Contacting your local police station – if the police are satisfied that there is a real threat of abduction within the next 48 hours, they can contact the National Ports Office and ask them to alert all UK points of departure to try to prevent the abduction.

If your child has already been taken out of the country then what you can do to have them returned depends upon the country to which they have been removed. If the country is a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction then you can make an application under the Convention for them to be returned immediately. A list of signatories can be found here. If the country is not a signatory then you may have no alternative than to take court proceedings in that country.

If you believe that your child may be abducted to another country, or that it has already happened, then you should instruct a family lawyer immediately. Family Law Café can help you find a specialist in this complex area. To contact us click the Contact link above and fill in the form, or call us on 020 3904 0506.

Image of the Peace Palace at The Hague, by Arne Hulstein, licensed under CC BY 2.0.