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Preventing child abduction

Posted on 3rd June 2016

When a marriage or relationship breaks down and there are children involved, sometimes one of the issues a parent faces is the fear that their child may be taken abroad without consent.

If you are a parent facing this predicament, it is important that you take immediate steps.

In the UK, it is a criminal offence for anyone connected with a child under the age of 16 to take or send a child out of the UK without the appropriate consent.

If you are the child’s mother or a father with “parental responsibility” for your child, then your consent is required if your child is to be taken out of the UK. If you are in doubt as to whether you have Parental Resposibility for your child, seek immediate legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor. It may be possible for an urgent application to be made for Parental Responsibility in appropriate cases.

There are also circumstances in which a parent can legally take a child out of England and Wales for up to a month without requiring the other parent’s permission such as where there is a Child Arrangements Order in place providing that the child lives with that parent.

How can you protect yourself?

The steps that you take will depend on whether you have concerns that your child is likely to be abducted imminently or at some point in the future.

Imminent Risk of Abduction:

If you have concerns your chid may be abducted within the next 48
hours:

  • Contact your local Police Station. Report the suspected abduction and ask if a “Port Alert” can be issued. This will put a warning on the borders for 28 days so that your child will be stopped by the authorities if someone tries to take your child across a border. Please note that a Port Alert may not always prevent a removal of a child from England and Wales. It is most effective when you have details of the proposed mode of travel and when it is happening for example details of a flight.
  • Seek immediate legal advice from a family lawyer with a specialism in child abduction. An urgent application can be made for a “Tipstaff Order” and “Port Alert”. The Tipstaff Order will enable the police to seize the children and proposed abductor’s passports. The Passports will be held by the court until further Order of the court. An Order can also be obtained for the UK Passport Office not to issue any further passports for your child.
  • You can also contact the charity Reunite on the helpline on 0116 255 6234. Their lines are open from Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm. They also offer an emergency 24 hour service out of office hours which can be accessed by calling the helpline. There may also be other appropriate Orders which you should apply for depending on the circumstances of your case. Your specialist family Solicitor can consider this with you.

Suspected Abduction at some point in the future

If you are worried that your child may be abducted at some point in the
future:

  • Seek advice from a specialist Family law Solicitor as soon as possible. Your Solicitor can discuss the possible options with you depending on the circumstances of your case. This may include making a court application for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent your child being removed from England and Wales.

Our Family Law Solicitors are backed by nearly four decades of experience. Our legal practice and team of London Solicitors have a strong track record of achieving favourable client outcomes. For expert legal advice use our contact form or call us on 0808 250 6017 today.