Child Abduction

Separation is a very difficult time and it can become an even more heart-breaking experience when children are involved.  Furthermore, if either of the parties comes from outside of the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the prospect of permanent removal of the children from England and their relocation far from one of the parents becomes a real possibility.

It is a criminal offence to remove a child out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales without the consent of all other persons with parental responsibility or an order of the court – it is called abduction.  In most cases it will result in very serious consequences for the parent who abducted the child but it may also cause an irreparable trauma to the child and great heartache to the parent left behind.

However, this concept may be difficult to understand by a parent for whom England is a foreign country, who is a national of another land.  It is very easy for this parent to imagine that he/she can simply take a child and move back to his/her own land – the situation is obviously not so simple.

The nationalities of the child and the parent do not matter – what is important is where the child is habitually resident.  If the child at the time of removal was settled in England, had lived here for some time and this country was the child’s permanent home, the laws of England and Wales apply, regardless of his or her nationality.

On the other hand this does not mean that a parent for whom England is not their home and who, following separation, may wish to return to their homeland, becomes trapped in England. However, this return home requires detailed planning and if there is no agreement with the parent left behind an intervention of the courts is necessary. The resulting court order may not only allow one parent to move the child but it will inevitably ensure that the relationship with the parent left behind is not broken and any removal is staged with the child’s best interest at heart.

How can we help?

Over the years we have developed a reputation in international family law establishing a network of international advocates and other professionals which has allowed us to recover children from many European countries and beyond.  We have a wealth of experience to assist the left behind parent.  Whenever possible, we can help to prevent the abduction by acting swiftly and with the necessary knowledge. However, we can also assist the parent who wishes to relocate with the child through the legal process while ensuring that at all times the child is protected and that both parents still remain an integral part of the child’s life.

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