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When people think of child abduction, they usually imagine a stranger taking a child from a park or outside of school. However, such occurrences are extremely rare. One parent removing a child from the UK and taking them to live permanently in another country, without the permission of the left-behind parent, is a much more common occurrence.
For international families, the prospect of one parent taking a child permanently to another country is a very real and terrifying prospect. The family law team at OTS Solicitors have years of experience in international child abduction. Our team can assist parents from the outset, when a possible abduction is merely suspected, through to working to have a child returned to Britain either through The Hague Convention channels or via negotiating with a non-Hague Convention government. As an award-winning law firm, highly-ranked in the Legal 500, we are committed to helping you have your child returned safely to the UK.
To speak to our top family law solicitors based in London, please contact us on 0203 959 9123, or contact us through our online enquiry form.
At OTS Solicitors, our family law solicitors possess a wealth of experience advising and representing on child abduction matters. We provide caring, practical advice in a friendly, sensitive manner. Our primary aim is the welfare of the child or children involved. Child abduction matters require a solicitor who has a deep understanding of international child abduction laws and can work quickly to ensure forms are filled out and filed correctly. It is also important that the legal requirements relating to the jurisdiction the child have been strictly followed to prevent any delays.
As well as family law, OTS Solicitors has a specialist immigration law department. Our immigration and family law collaborate extensively to ensure clients who are considering international child abduction are supported through every stage of the process.
The members of our family law team belong to Resolution, an organisation whose members follow a Code of Practice that promotes a non-confrontational approach to family problems. Members encourage solutions that consider the needs of the whole family. The group also lobbies for changes in family law to ensure it is meeting the needs of the community.
By instructing us to advise you on child abduction matters, you can be confident we understand how to deal with the situation and will work quickly to have your child returned to the UK.
Do parents need permission to take their child out of the country long-term?
If you have a child arrangement order which states the child will live with you, you can take them out of the country (on holiday for example) for 28 days without the permission of anyone else with a parental order. However, the child must still be made available for any contact time stated in the order with the left-behind parent.
To take a child abroad for any longer than 28 days, permission from everyone who has a parental order must be obtained.
If permission is denied, you can apply to the court for a specific issue order. This can be made as an emergency application if you have an urgent reason to go overseas. Our solicitors can assist you with applying for a specific issue order.
If you take your child out of the country without the consent of everyone with a parental order, you could be breaking the law.
What is the Hague Convention?
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty designed to provide the quick return of a child who has been abducted to one country, to their country of habitual residence. The Convention is designed to preserve the child arrangement orders made in the country of the child’s habitual residence, to prevent parents seeking other orders from more ‘sympathetic’ countries.
Ninety-eight states are parties to the convention; the latest to accede were Pakistan and the Philippines in 2016.
Our family law team have an in-depth understanding of the Hague Convention and the procedures involved in having a child who has been abducted to a Hague Convention country returned. We will provide you with robust advice and representation, allowing you the comfort of knowing your child will soon be returned to the UK.
What can I do if I suspect my child will be abducted?
If you believe there is a real threat your child may be taken abroad without your permission, please contact us immediately. We can apply to have an all port alert put in place if the threat of abduction is real and likely to occur within the next 24-48 hours. An all port alert means the police will flag the child’s name at all UK airports and points of departure.
We can also obtain an order to have the child’s passport surrendered, and no new one can be issued without the consent of you or the court. If the other parent is of another nationality, we can write to the embassy or consulate of their country and ask them not to issue your child a passport without express permission. This does not have to be obeyed, but many countries will follow such instructions voluntarily.
Let us help you if your child has been abducted
Our family and immigration law solicitors have the experience to help you navigate through the complicated process of child abduction. We are a friendly, sensitive, compassionate team, dedicated to caring for the best interests of the child and reuniting families.
Many parents have entrusted us to assist them with their child abduction matters. We take our responsibilities to them and their child extremely seriously. By approaching each case in a bespoke manner, we ensure every family who comes to us feels fully supported throughout the legal process. We then go on to advise them through the inevitable child arrangement matters which follow such a traumatic event.
For a more detailed discussion regarding child abduction, or to book an appointment with a member of our family law team, please call us now on 0203 959 9123