At Osbornes, Simone McGrath and Mark Freedman specialise in this area of law, representing parents whose children have been removed without consent or parents who have removed their children from the jurisdiction.
This situation can arise as a result of family breakdown where one parent has family outside England and Wales and returns to that family with their children without the consent of either the other parent (referred to as the “left behind parent”) or permission of the Court. Similarly, a parent might come to England and Wales with the children on family breakdown without the consent of the left behind parent or permission of the court in the foreign jurisdiction.
If parents believe there is an imminent risk of abduction there are emergency steps that can be taken to prevent the removal and protect the child. Urgent legal advice should be sought immediately. Public Funding is usually available.
How Osbornes family solicitors can help prevent child abduction
If you are concerned that the other parent may try to abduct your child or permanently remove him/her from the UK, we can apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps order, a Residence order and/or a Parental Responsibility order as is most appropriate to your case. This will state that your child cannot be taken out of the UK and may even require the surrender of your child’s passport and /or the passport of the parent you fear may be planning to abduct your child..
We can also assist you in alerting the police so that details of your child can be circulated to the relevant authorities such as all ports and border agents.
In the situation where the parent you fear may abduct your child has dual citizenship, we can help you draft a letter to the embassy or consulate of any other country where the other parent may attempt to obtain a passport for your child. We can ask them not to issue a passport, although we cannot force them to do so.
How Osbornes family solicitors can help recover an abducted child from a foreign country
If your child has been taken to an EU country which subscribes to the Hague Convention or the European Convention, an application can be made to the country your child has been taken to for your child to be returned.
Generally speaking, these conventions recognise that the court in the state of the child’s habitual residence is the most appropriate forum for decisions relating to the child’s residence and other issues affecting the child’s life.
If your child has been taken to a country that does not subscribe to these international agreements, we can assist you making your child a Ward of Court and obtaining advice on the laws in the country where your child has been taken to and how to make an application in that country for your child’s return. It may also be possible for the assets of the abductor to be seized in this country and/or committal of the abductor to prison.
Written by Simone McGrath
Your next step
If you are worried that your child is under threat of being abducted or has already been abducted contact Simone McGrath urgently for assistance.
Details of the whole family team are available on the family law teams’ page.
Simone is recognised as a leading family lawyer with ‘a particular focus on international child abduction’, by the leading independent legal directory Chambers & Partners. Simone is also a member of the panel of lawyers instructed in child abduction work by the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit at the Official Solicitor’s Department.