In this next article in the series, I am going to discuss what you should do if your child has been taken out of the UK to another country without your permission. This is often known as child abduction.
Child abduction – things to consider
As I discussed in my previous article, if you have parental responsibility for your child and have not agreed to them being taken out of the UK you should consider the following:
- Act quickly. A move can be prevented from taking place by making an urgent application to the court for a prohibited steps order and/or child arrangements order.
- Contact the police. The police can issue something called a ‘port alert’ to all ports and airports to prevent your child from being taken out of the country.
- Contact the passport service and inform them of the potential abduction so that they do not issue another passport.
- If a child has dual nationality, contact the relevant embassy and inform them of the potential abduction to prevent them from issuing another passport.
- Consider making your child a ward of court. This means the High Court would become legal Guardian for the child and freeze the situation to prevent them from being removed from the UK.
- Consider making an application to the High Court for a ‘tipstaff’ order. This can enable the tipstaff to locate and return a child, seize passports and travel documents.
What if my child has been removed from the UK?
To a Hague Convention country
Firstly, check whether your child has been removed to a Hague Convention country. If they have, actions can be taken to secure their return to their last place of residence:
- Make an application firstly to the Central Government Authority in the UK (the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU)) for a voluntary return.
- If that fails, make an application to the High Court for an order for the return of your child.
To a non-Hague Convention country
If the country is not a Hague Convention country, advice will need to be sought in the country the child has been taken to as any court process will need to start there.
If you find yourself in this situation, time is very much of the essence. Applications can be made to the court on an urgent basis and heard that day, if necessary. Please contact our Children team if you require assistance.