Child Abduction

Expert guidance and support with child abduction, the specialised area of family law

From a family law perspective, child abduction covers a wide range of situations where a child is taken to another jurisdiction (e.g. another country) without the consent of the parents or guardians.

Most cases tend to involve the conduct of divorced or separated parents, where one acts without the consent of the other. This could be something extremely serious, such as a child being taken abroad to live permanently or for an extended period. In the eyes of the law it can also include taking a child abroad on holiday without consent, particularly if it contravenes a Child Arrangement Order.

SA Law’s Divorce & Family team can help you whatever the situation. We can act swiftly if your child has been removed from their home country, or if you fear this may occur in the future. We can also advise you on the scope of your Child Arrangement Order, and how it affects any plans you wish to make that involve international travel.

If child abduction has occurred or may be imminent, there are many effective legal tools we can put in use. For example, we can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order that prohibits removal without the written consent of the other parent / guardian or an Order of the Court. If the parent and child have already travelled to England from abroad, a Tipstaff Order will help to locate them, after which their passports and other travel documents will be seized. If a child has already been taken abroad we can Ward the child in order to seek a return. 

We also favour mediation as a way for partners and any other guardians to discuss their needs and fears about taking a child abroad. This can be used preventatively, but also to secure a return or after the child has been safely returned home. 

How we help you

  • SA Law is extremely experienced in this specialised and often complex area of law. Our team members have successfully prevented the removal of children, and successfully arranged for their return.
  • We can advise on all the various perspectives, whether you are concerned about abduction taking place, an abduction has happened or you are being unfairly accused of it.
  • Contact us as soon as possible, particularly if you believe an abduction has occurred or is imminent. We will act immediately, taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation. 

It's good to bear in mind

  • Child abduction is a criminal offence in England and Wales so seek legal advice if you find yourself unfairly accused of it, or on the receiving end of a court order.
  • The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty to ensure the swift return of children who have been abducted between signatory countries. We can advise you on how it applies to your situation.
  • In high risk abduction situations, we can apply for Wardship Orders in the High Court. This gives the court shared responsibility for the child’s care, and it must give permission for any action that affects them. 
The whole team just seemed switched-on. They were empathetic, knowledgeable, approachable and respectful. A pleasure to deal with. I highly recommend them.
Chambers & Partners
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