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Child Abduction UK Law

When a child is forcefully removed from the care of the person with whom they normally live, or there is a threat of such removal, the situation requires immediate action by both the carer of the child and their legal representative.

It is absolutely crucial that if you believe a child is going to be abducted that you take all possible steps to prevent this from occurring. If you believe your child is being abducted, you should make immediate contact with the police. It is also advised you get in touch with a specialist solicitor for legal advice.

At Lupton Fawcett, our Yorkshire-based lawyers can provide the support you need during this emotional and distressing time. We can make an urgent application to the court for an order to prevent an abduction or have the child returned to your care. 

Speak to a solicitor today by calling 0333 323 5292, emailing or by filling in our enquiry form and letting us know a suitable time to call you back.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute as legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

What Happens When a Child Has Been Abducted?

Child abduction is a complex area of law and how the matter is to be addressed depends on where your child is at that moment in time. You must immediately seek the assistance of the police as well as premium advice from one of our specialist solicitors. Time is of the essence and you must not delay.

The unlawful removal of a child is a criminal offence. You can also be arrested if a police officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a person is attempting to commit an offence of abduction under the Child Abduction Act 1984, the police officer may arrest them to prevent an abduction taking place.

Within the UK

When a child is forcibly taken to either Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man, although they remain within the United Kingdom , the procedure for the recovery of the child is slightly different.

An immediate application to court is required for child arrangements, prohibited steps, special guardianship or specific issue orders.

Outside of the UK

When a child is removed from the United Kingdom, legal orders available to secure their return are limited and extremely complex, depending upon whether your child has been abducted to a convention country or not.

A number of countries form part of the convention relating to the custody of, or contact with, children between states that have ratified one or both of the conventions concerned. The two conventions are:

  • The Hague Convention - the convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction
  • The European Convention - the convention on the recognition and enforcement of decisions concerning custody of children and on the restriction of custody of children in countries in Europe

The procedure undertaken to try and recover the child from a convention country is complex and immediate advice should be taken from one of our solicitors.

If your child has been taken to a non-convention country, the options are extremely limited and time restrictive. Orders made in England and Wales are not automatically recognised and enforceable in another jurisdiction outside the UK unless the jurisdiction is party to one or both of the Hague and European Conventions. Often the best way to secure a child’s return is to bring proceedings in the country to which the child has been abducted. The jurisdiction issue will therefore need to be considered by a lawyer from within that jurisdiction.

Types of Abduction Orders

The orders that are available in respect of child abduction and the time which it takes to reunite the child with the carer vary depending on the location of the child. It is crucial that an application for a court order is made as soon as the carer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the child may be abducted.

Additionally, in a case where permission is being sought to remove the child temporarily from the jurisdiction, there may be a requirement for a financial bond and surety.

How to Prevent an Abduction

If you suspect that your child may be abducted, you should make immediate contact with the police and also instruct one of our expert solicitors. The following orders may provide some protection against the possibility of abduction:

  • Prohibited steps order
  • Child arrangements order
  • Making the child a ward of the court
  • A non-molestation injunction under the Family Act 1996
  • An injunction order made under inherent jurisdiction of the High Court
  • An injunction in civil proceedings
  • The requirement of a financial bond and/or surety in a case where permission is being sought to remove the child temporarily from the jurisdiction

On a practical level, you should retain your child’s passport and alert schools or nurseries.

Contact Us for Help

We provide advice on a wide range of legal issues to clients around Yorkshire from our offices in Leeds, Sheffield and York. For an initial discussion on the specific details of your case, contact our solicitors today using the details below.

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