Child abduction is when a minor has been taken from the parent or someone with legal responsibility for the child. This offence can be committed by individuals biologically related and not related to the child, such as neighbours, friends, or strangers.
What is Parental child abduction?
Parental child abduction is when the minor’s parent or guardian takes or withholds the child from their other parent or family member, and as a result, they are depriving them of their right to contact with the child.
Issues concerning child abduction in family law can arise between partners who have separated and can accurately be described as a child being taken out of the country for more than 4 weeks at a time by one parent without the consent of the other or without the permission of the court.
What can I do to prevent child abduction?
If your child has been taken out of the country without consent or you suspect that they will be then it is important to seek legal advice immediately so that prohibitive or preventative measures can be taken. Our expert family law solicitors will advise on the most appropriate steps to take.
These may include applying to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order which would prevent your former partner from taking your child out of the country or if they have already left, we may be able to petition the Court on your behalf to have the child returned to your care.
How will legal proceedings go ahead?
Legal proceedings can be swiftly initiated in situations where there is a concern that a child might be unlawfully taken out of the country or has already been removed. The objective is to locate the child and facilitate their return. The court will make the determination on whether the child should be returned to their country of origin. If the child is to be returned, the court in that country will subsequently decide on matters related to the child's residence and contact arrangements, especially if the parents are unable to reach an agreement.
Additionally, there are legal measures that can be rapidly put into action if there is a suspicion that a child could be taken out of the country without the appropriate consent. These legal safeguards are designed to prevent such abductions from occurring.
If you are concerned about the potential abduction of your child or have been served with court proceedings, we can provide you with prompt assistance. It's important to note that legal aid may be available in these cases, subject to financial eligibility. We will guide, support, and advise you through the process with care and sensitivity.
What happens if a child is taken abroad unlawfully?
Over 90 Countries including the UK and Ireland, have ratified the Hague Convention, an international treaty with the primary objective of swiftly returning abducted children to their country of origin. The focus of the Hague Convention is to ensure the prompt repatriation of children who have been wrongfully moved from one country to another. However, there are specific situations in which a court may decide not to return a child to their home country.
While the Convention generally mandates the return of the child, it also outlines limited circumstances in which a court may refuse to order the child's return. These exceptions include cases where there is a grave risk of harm to the child or where the child has reached an age where their objections should be considered.
It's important to note that the effectiveness of the Hague Convention in resolving child abduction cases depends on the willingness of countries to comply with its provisions and cooperate with each other. While the Convention has been successful in many cases, challenges can arise in cases where a country does not fully implement or enforce its provisions.
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