Children Law
Frequently Asked Questions

Child Abduction

We Are Child Abduction Solicitors
When a relationship breaks down it can be very difficult to decide where children should live after the separation – this becomes more problematic when the two parents live in different countries. However, any parent who simply takes a child to a different country without consent is committing a criminal offence.

We know how traumatic such an event can be and we will act immediately to return your child to you through the appropriate legal channels.

Proceedings are commonly held in the High Court in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. We regularly travel to London to attend the courts and can accompany you or be there on your behalf.

NOTE: If you suspect that your child has been, or is about to be, abducted please contact us IMMEDIATELY as swift action is essential in these cases.

You can call us immediately on 029 2039 5888 or you can contact Kerry Mordey HERE

What is Child Abduction?
Parental child abduction is when a person connected to the child takes them away from their country of residence without the appropriate consent.

If all of the following exist, it is likely that the parent remaining behind can instigate child abduction proceedings.

  • the child involved must be under 16 years of age
  • the child has been removed from his/her usual country of residence or wrongfully retained in a country which is not their usual country of residence
  • the removal or retention has taken place in breach of rights of custody of the left behind parent
  • the left behind parent was exercising those rights of custody at the time the removal/retention took place

However, there may be a defence to the allegation of abduction, which could be one of the following:

  • The left behind parent consented or acquiesced to the removal of the child
  • The child would be at risk of grave harm if returned
  • The child is now settled in the new country

If your child has been taken out of the UK to a country that has signed up to the Hague Convention or another international agreement, as specialists in that field we will take legal steps to return them to you as quickly as possible.

Where no agreement is in place, we will instruct specialist child abduction lawyers in that jurisdiction.

Legal proceedings are started in the country that the child has been taken to.

Child Abduction to and from the UK, and when it may be lawful
Abduction from the UK

If a child has been abducted to the UK, an urgent application can be made to the English court for the prompt return of the child to his or her home country.

Abduction to the UK

If a child has been abducted from the UK, an urgent application to the courts in the country to which the child has been taken will be required. The laws which apply and the way in which this is done varies between countries.

Abduction to a Hague Convention Country

If a child has been taken to a country which is signed up to the Hague Convention there is a presumption that the abducted child will be returned. There is a timescale of one year in which to apply and defences are limited.

Abduction to a non-Hague Country

Here the procedure is different, and may be slower. What the court may consider differs between countries, and it may not be automatically assumed that a child should be returned to England for their future to be decided by the courts in the UK.

Specific Protocols

Some countries, such as Egypt and Pakistan, have bi-lateral protocols in place setting out the considerations which will apply in such cases, and making provision for judicial co-operation between the two countries. We will be able to advise you on the specific laws relating to the country to which your child has been abducted.

When is abduction lawful?

A child can only be removed from England and Wales lawfully with the agreement of everyone who holds parental responsibility for the child, or by a Court Order.

A parent who holds a residence order for a child may take that child out of the UK for up to 28 days without the consent of the other parent.

How To Prevent
If you think there may be a risk of abduction, there are various measures you can consider to prevent your child being abducted:

  • Insist that contact is supervised
  • Ask for the child’s and/or parent’s passport to be surrendered – if this is not forthcoming, a Court Order can be applied
  • Apply for a Court Order preventing removal of the child
  • Notify the Passport Agency or Embassy to prevent any further passports being issued for the child
  • Notify the ports and airports that there is a very real danger of child abduction.

In certain cases where the child needs to travel (but there is a concern of abduction) it may be appropriate to consider a form of security, such as a bond or a charge over property which will be forfeited by the child abductor if the child is not returned.

If you suspect a child abduction get in touch immediately.

Swift action is paramount in child abduction cases and if you are suspicious please call us immediately on 029 2039 5888 or please email HERE immediately and we will take action to help protect your child.

  • Child Arrangement Order/Special Guardianship/Adoption applications

There is no automatic entitlement to legal aid for these applications regarding children. However, depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for Legal Aid and following a meeting, we will be able to establish if you are.

If you aren’t entitled to legal aid, we can advise you on what your options are.

  • Care Proceedings

If you are the biological parent or a child who is the subject of the proceedings, you are automatically entitled to legal aid.

If you are neither of the above, you may be eligible depending on your circumstances and following a meeting, we will be able to establish if you are.

If you aren’t entitled to legal aid, we can advise you on what your options are.

Special Guardianship & Adoption

When it isn’t possible for a child to live with their parents, the Court will be looking at what the most stable and permanent place for a child to live is. Special Guardianship Orders and Adoption are considered to be the most stable and permanent options.

The main difference between Special Guardianship Orders and Adoption is that Adoption changes the legal status of the child, cutting all legal ties with the birth family where Special Guardianship orders don’t.

Special Guardianship orders allows the people with parental responsibility for a child to continue to have parental responsibility but the Special Guardians have a larger percentage and have the last say in decisions about the child.

Each of these applications requires the involvement of the local authority and detailed assessments of the applicants. These Orders can only be made by applications to Court and our team can advise you and guide you through the process.