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Family Law

Child Abduction

Jacqueline Major
Bharti Shah
Vanessa Friend
Sarah Harding

If your child is removed from your care and kept without your permission this can be unlawful and requires urgent action.

If you’re concerned that your child has been (or may be) taken abroad or has been brought to England or Wales without your permission, our experienced Family Law specialists can help you.

Our specialist Family Law solicitors have extensive experience in representing parents whose children have been taken without their permission to another country, including those countries which are signatories to the Hague Convention and those countries which aren’t.

We work closely with trusted professionals in the other country to make sure that matters are handled swiftly to ensure the quick and safe return of the children. 

What to do in the case of an actual or potential child abduction

Child abduction is a highly specialist area within Family Law. It’s important that anybody affected by child abduction seeks urgent advice from a specialist Family Law solicitor who is up to date with this complex, fast-evolving and niche area of law.

We can assist with:

  • Applying for a court order to prevent a child from being taken abroad
  • Applying for a court order to prevent a passport from being issued
  • Alerting the authorities in the UK and abroad
  • Negotiating with foreign law enforcement bodies

"They were very professional and always listened to my needs. They were very prompt and efficient and always kept me informed. The service was nothing short of excellent."

What does the law say?

When a child has been abducted, there are several ways that the law can ensure that they’re returned. This is dependent on the case and the country to which the child has been taken.

  • If a child has been taken within England & Wales, the English courts can be asked to help trace and/or recover them.
  • If a child has been taken to or kept in a country that has signed up to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 (known as the “Hague Convention”) then the legal process can be more complex. The Hague Convention deals with children who are wrongfully removed from one jurisdiction to another, or who are retained outside the country of their habitual residence (where they usually live). The Hague Convention sets out the law and procedure that should be followed to ensure the immediate return of a child to the jurisdiction of their habitual residence.
  • If a child is taken out of England & Wales to a country that has not signed the Hague Convention, there may be an agreement with the other country about returning the child. In these circumstances, our specialist Family Law solicitors can assist in wardship proceedings, which means that the court will assume parental authority for the child. This can help persuade the authorities/courts to return the child to the UK.

Featured case

Mother moved to Morocco without permission of her son’s father

We acted for a father who lived in the Netherlands. The mother removed their son to Morocco without his permission. A few years later, she then took their son to England on holiday. The father issued an application for a location order and a port alert was put in place, resulting in the mother being stopped from boarding a plane back to Morocco. The father issued an application under the Hague Convention for the return of his son. The mother relied on defences of grave risk of harm, acquiescence, and settlement.

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