Child Abduction is when a child, who is under 16, is taken out of the UK without the consent of those with Parental Responsibility or consent of the Court.
It is important to note that it is not classed as child abduction when a child is taken to another county within the UK. It is, however, recommended that you receive the consent from the other parent if there is no Court Order in place. If there is a Child Arrangements Order stating that you are the resident parent, you can legally take the child outside of the UK without requiring consent for up to 28 days.
The law concerning Child Abduction is the Child Abduction Act 1984. Under this law, it is a criminal offence for a person to send or take a child under the age of 16 out of the UK without the appropriate consent.
You will have Parental Responsibility (PR) for a child if you are the Mother for the child, the Father married to Mother or named on the Birth Certificate or have a Parental Responsibility agreement or order.
A child can be made a Ward of the Court which means that the High Court can be entrusted with legal guardianship of a child to ensure their safety and protection. The parents or local authority will still have day to day care and control of the child but the court’s consent is required for any significant step in the child’s life. If a child is A Ward of the Court, the child cannot be removed from the UK without the permission of the Court.
If you are concerned that there may be a risk of Child Abduction, you can take the following steps:
Apply to the courts for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the removal of the child from the UK. A breach of this Court Order would then be contempt of court.
You can contact the children’s schools to raise your concerns with the school and request that they put procedures in place to ensure that the children will not be collected by the potential abductor.
You can contact the Passport Office to prevent the child from obtaining a passport without your consent. If the child already has a passport, you can obtain an Order from the Court for the child’s passports to be surrendered.
You can contact the Police to issue a Port Alert if the child is likely to be taken abroad without the necessary consent. A Port Alert means that the police will alert all points of departure from the UK to prevent the abduction. The Port Alert will be active for 28 days but if this is required to be extended, an application to the Court will need to be made.
Under Section 50(1) of the Children Act 1989, a Recovery Order can be made for a child who is subject of a Care Order, Emergency Protection Order or in Police Protection where there is a reason to believe that the child has been unlawfully taken from the care of the responsible person, the child has run away, is staying away or is missing.
Section 50(3) of the Children Act 1989 sets out what a Recovery Order means in practice. A Recovery Order:
If the child has been abducted to a country within the Hague Convention, an application can be made to the International Child Abduction & Contact Unit, known as the ICACU. The ICACU will advise of the steps you need to follow and will put you in contact with legal representation in the country in which the child has been taken. The legal representative will then review your case and will submit an application to the High Court for an Order for the return of the child.
Duncan Lewis Solicitors can advise you in relation to Children Act Proceedings. Duncan Lewis Solicitors have specialist solicitors who represent parents, family members and children within this area of law. Our solicitors, trainees and caseworkers also speak a range of languages to assist clients where required with any language barriers.
Duncan Lewis is recommended by The Legal 500 legal directory for its specialism in all aspects of family and children law nationwide and cross-border. The Legal 500 applauds our family and child care solicitors to be a team of lawyers that are ‘friendly professionals who take their time to understand your case’. Duncan Lewis team includes Advanced Members of the Law Society’s Family Panel, and members of the Law Society Children.
Depending on the application, legal aid may be available and you can be assessed for this prior to the matter being taken on. Alternatively, a quote for a fixed fee or the hourly rates of a legal representative also be provided. You will be advised of the funding arrangements prior to the proceedings commencing.
For expert legal advice on all family and childcare matters, contact Duncan Lewis Solicitors on 033 3772 0409.