Child Abduction Following Separation or Divorce


Having your child taken away from their home or out of the country without your consent or knowledge is a distressing experience – it is also illegal as it breaks British law and contravenes a number of international conventions. However, there are steps you can take to attempt to enforce your rights, particularly if the jurisdiction your child has been removed to is signatory to The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. For information about how we may be able to help, contact Wellers child abduction lawyers today.
 

Child Abduction Act 1984

The Child Abduction Act 1984, relates to England, Wales and Scotland. Under Part I Offences (relating to England and Wales) it states the following:

“A person connected with a child under the age of 16 commits an offence if he takes or sends a child outside of the United Kingdom without the appropriate consent.”

Furthermore, under the Part I terms of the Act it is a criminal offence for anyone, including a parent, to take a child out of the UK without, when relevant, the consent of the following:

  • The child’s other parent
  • The child’s guardian
  • Any person with a residence order for the child
  • The Local Authority
  • The Family Proceedings Court

When parents separate or divorce, sometimes one parent will wish to move their children to a new location, however they must have consent from the other parent before doing so, even if they have been granted a residence order.

Preventing Child Abduction

If you have any reason to suspect that your child is at risk of being abducted by a former spouse, partner or other guardian or family member, it is essential that you seek legal advice as soon as possible to prevent this from happening.

There are ways to pre-empt an abduction attempt. These include the following:

  • A Prohibited Steps Order
  • A Child Arrangements Order
  • A Specific Issues Order
  • Habitual residence
  • Making a child a ward of the court
  • Contacting police
  • Seizure of any passports and travel documents
  • Alerting the passport office to prevent it from issuing the child with a passport
  • Making contact with any relevant embassy to ensure that any non-British or dual-national child is not taken from the UK
  • Port alert

Furthermore, it is important that you speak with a family law and child abduction specialist as soon as possible in order to make any necessary application to the court. In the case of an emergency, it may be possible to do this outside of business hours.

If your Child has Already Been Abducted

If your child has been removed from jurisdiction without your knowledge or consent, whether they remain in the UK or have been taken out of the country, it is a serious crime and is covered both domestically by the Child Abduction Act, and internationally by The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and The European Convention.

It is essential that you take prompt action to enable the repatriation of your child; a family lawyer in the UK can begin this process by making a request through the formal channels.

Furthermore, child abduction lawyers may be able to assist with the following:

  • Liaison with government, embassies, courts and lawyers abroad
  • Seeking a court order demanding the child’s return
  • The disclosure of information and records in order to help locate the child
  • Contacting the police and using the Child Rescue Alert Scheme (in cases where the child is considered to be at serious threat of harm)

Wellers Law Group for Child Abduction Cases

If your child has been abducted by an ex-partner or family member it is essential that you take action promptly. The 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction stipulates that you must apply within one year of the abduction. If your child has been abducted to a country that is signatory to The European Union Brussels II legislation, the application may be resolved within six weeks of submission.

In the event that your child has been abducted to a jurisdiction not covered by either of these agreements, the situation may be more difficult, although it may still be possible to apply for your child’s return using the laws of the country concerned.

For decisive legal help in all matters related to child abduction, contact the family lawyers at Wellers Law Group. We can assist in cases where children have been wrongfully retained in other countries and/or abducted from the care of the parent with whom they live. For more information, get in touch with our team.

To speak to family law solicitor, please call the team on 020 8290 7992 for our Bromley team, 01732 446374 for Sevenoaks, 020 7481 6393 for central London or 01483 284567 for our Surrey team.  Alternatively, you can contact us online by clicking on the enquiry button below.