We receive a high amount of abduction cases. There are still, sadly, too many child abductions away from the primary residential parent, especially to non-Hague convention countries.

Genuine child abduction is still a major problem. Many countries are not doing enough or anything to secure the return of abducted children. Sometimes the child goes missing altogether or for many years.

Sometimes the courts of the country to which the child has been abducted will not assist in any return and perhaps even transfer custody to the other parent, the national, often the father.¬ Some parents have had to take drastic and dramatic steps to recover their children, even after many years apart.

What is the Hague Convention?

It is a worldwide agreement entered into by about 80 countries with the intention to secure the fast return of abducted children to the country from which they have been abducted. Governments, police and courts work together very closely, including between countries. Their concern is the early return of the child.

What happens if our child has been abducted to a country which is not a signatory to the Hague convention?

There are unfortunately still many countries which are not signatories to the Hague Convention.Some non-signatory countries actively cooperate as if they are signatories.Some have entered into bilateral arrangements with England similar to the Hague Convention such as Pakistan and Egypt.

However a number of countries do not co-operate fully to secure the return of an abducted child. Very good, experienced and specialist legal advice and representation is needed and must be sought quickly.

English specialist lawyers often work closely with lawyers in the country to which the child has been taken. Proceedings in England such as wardship can sometimes assist to encourage the courts of the other country to order a return from abroad.¬ Other steps can be taken e.g. seizing assets belonging to the abducting parent.¬

The English courts’ obligation is to secure the immediate return of the child. English courts will be more prepared to consider long-term issues, i.e. who is the best parent to look after the child and care for the child and in which country. It is often beneficial when we work with a specialist lawyer in the other country to ascertain what would happen if the child were to be returned.

The Court can make very powerful orders when a child is missing. It is of paramount importance that the child is located quickly.

This includes:

• orders against telephone companies to locate the address a telephone is used by an alleged abductor or the area from which mobile calls are made.
• orders against banks to freeze accounts.
• orders against friends and relatives to attend court to disclose whereabouts of parent and child.

The above orders are only an example. This list is not exhaustive. Courts view the abduction of children and failure to disclose whereabouts very seriously indeed and use all available powers.
Threats by one parent to abduct a child should always be treated seriously.

A number of steps can be taken to minimise the risk and we are happy to discuss these with you.