Posted on Jul 12, 2012 in Family Law by Amanda Wilson
With more and more people choosing to travel and work abroad, this has often resulted in couples from different countries starting relationships and in many cases, having children together. However, often when these relationships break down, it can be difficult for the couple to agree where the children should live, particularly if one party wishes to return “home” to their own country with the children.
It is perhaps not surprising then that the UK Foreign Office has this week reported a 10% rise (in the 12 months), in the number of child abduction cases, where the children have been abducted by one parent and taken to a country that has not signed up to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.
Such countries include Pakistan, India and Thailand. For countries that have not ratified the Hague Convention, this makes it very difficult for the UK Foreign Office to intervene, to ensure that any abducted children are returned to the UK safely. In those circumstances, the UK Government relies upon cooperation and assistance from the authorities in that particular country. Often, the parent who has been “left behind” will require to raise court proceedings in that country, which can be a daunting prospect, with no guarantee of the outcome. Whilst the Foreign Office can provide support and guidance to a parent in that situation, they cannot interfere with the law of the other country and as such, their powers are limited.
This can be contrasted with the position of countries which have signed up to the Hague Convention, which provides a clear legal framework and process for the safe return of the child. The process can be initiated from the UK and requires full cooperation between the countries involved.
In a response to these figures, the Government has issued guidance for parents at risk of having their child abducted.
Any parent who genuinely believes that their child is at risk of being abducted should, in every case, seek legal advice from a family lawyer at the earliest opportunity. There are certain emergency court orders that can be applied for, such as an Interdict, preventing removal of the child and also orders requiring the surrender of the child’s passport. In addition, the family lawyer can provide practical advice and information to the parent in that situation to try and prevent such an abduction taking place in the first place.
Where a child has already been abducted then again, legal advice should be sought from a family lawyer and indeed the police as a matter of urgency.
Amanda Wilson is a specialist Family Law Solicitor. If you have any questions about child abduction or agreeing residence of a child please contact Amanda - firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01382 229111.
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