Child Abduction & Relocation
Due to increasing numbers of international families, the movement of children between different jurisdictions is now commonplace. Whether permanent relocation or a holiday, by agreement or court order, or in the context of child abduction, such matters should not be dealt with by a general family practitioner and require specialist legal advice.
What is Child Abduction?
Child abduction is a complex and fast-evolving area of law involving jurisdictional issues and international conventions. Perhaps your child has not returned home after a holiday abroad or you think they are at risk of abduction. Maybe you have just received court papers claiming you have abducted your child. All cases of child abduction require immediate action. It is crucial to get the right advice at an early stage as if mistakes are made, they can have far-reaching consequences.
We are Resolution Accredited Specialists in child abduction and have extensive experience of acting for parents who are referred to us by the Official Solicitor to secure the return of their child, and for those parents who have removed their child.
What is Relocation in children proceedings?
Moving abroad with your child or resisting an application for your child to be moved abroad, are difficult and highly emotive cases, which are often finely balanced. Consent is always needed from the other parent, or anyone else holding Parental Responsibility, to relocate outside the jurisdiction of England & Wales (“international relocation”), and in some instances within England & Wales (“internal relocation”) and for a foreign holiday. If consent is not given, a court application must be made.
Advice should be taken at an early stage and our specialist London lawyers will provide expert guidance on how to approach these issues to ensure the best prospects of success.
Child Abduction – FAQs
If your child has been abducted, it is essential to act quickly. The steps that you take depend on the country to which your child has been taken or kept in. If the country is a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention, arrangements should be in place for the matter to be dealt with quickly. If the country in question is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention, there may be a protocol in place, or there may be steps you can take under its domestic legal system or, in some cases, under the English court’s Inherent Jurisdiction.
If you have been accused of child abduction and have to go to court, we can act urgently in advising you and representing you in court proceedings (and in obtaining Legal Aid for those who are eligible).
Child abduction proceedings are a specialist area and are usually concluded in a matter of weeks. It is therefore important that you act quickly and instruct an accredited specialist.
If the application is made pursuant to the 1980 Hague Convention, there are a limited number of specific defences that are available. If the matter is being dealt with under the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court, then the matter will be determined in accordance with the individual welfare needs of your child and all relevant matters can be raised.
If you are worried your child is going to be abducted, there are a number of steps that you can take to reduce the risk of abduction. These include practical measures that you can take yourself as well as the involvement of third parties, such as the police and the courts. If you think that abduction is imminent, you should not hesitate in taking specialist legal advice and consider applying for a “Port Alert”.
If you are unable to return home from holiday with your child, a Wardship application to the High Court may be helpful in this situation. The court has the power to freeze bank accounts and seize assets as a way of exerting pressure on your partner to facilitate your child’s return. Your English lawyer may need to work with a lawyer in the country where your child is currently located.