What is child abduction?
Parental child abduction is where one parent takes a child out of their country of habitual residence without the permission of others with parental responsibility for that child or the Courts.
What is the Hague Convention?
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (The Hague Convention) is a multilateral treaty that provides a swift method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one-member country to another.
The Hague Convention applies to children under 16 years. Its primary objective is to restore the custody arrangements made before the wrongful removal of the child. It does not provide jurisdiction for the Court to decide on child arrangement issues. Instead, it provides that the Court order the child returned to their home country if it is proved they were removed illegally.
If your child is taken to a country within the EU (with the exception of Denmark), ‘Brussels II bis’, a European Union Regulation will apply.
How is ‘habitual residence’ defined in child abduction cases?
The Hague Convention does not define ‘habitual residence’. It is not a technical term; it is simply the place where the child normally resides. The Court will look at the facts of the child’s life when deciding their habitual residence, such as where they go to school, where their doctor is based, whether they are involved in the community etc.
Are there any defences available under the Hague Convention to prevent the child from being returned?
There are several defences available to the Hague Convention, including:
- The child objects to being returned.
- YThere is a risk of physical or mental harm to the child.
- The child was removed with consent.
- The person removing the child was not exercising any custody rights at the time of the alleged abduction.
The child’s habitual residence can also be challenged.
Our multi-lingual Solicitors will work with top barristers to build a strong defence if you are accused of child abduction. The Court will be focused on the child’s welfare only. Therefore it is critical that you receive experienced advice to have a chance of persuading the Court the child should not be returned to their country of habitual residence.
How can I prevent my child from being abducted by their other parent?
If you suspect your child is at risk of being abducted, contact us immediately. We can apply for a Child Arrangement Order or Prohibited Steps Order to prevent your child from being removed unless certain conditions are met. A Prohibited Steps Order can also prevent your child from being issued with a passport. In serious situations, we can apply to make the child a Ward of the Court.
Also, the police can put out a Port Alert if you suspect your child is going to be taken overseas without your permission in the next 48 hours. This will alert all points of departure from the UK to look out for your child and prevent them from leaving the country.
What if my child is taken to a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention?
Many countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Guyana are not subject to the Hague Convention and lack legal provisions which guard against international parental abduction. If your child has been taken to a non-Hague Convention country, our Solicitors will work with lawyers, authorities, and child welfare agencies in both the UK and the country the child has been taken to facilitate the child’s safe return.
We understand the emotional turmoil, fear, and stress surrounding child abduction. Rakhi and her team will ensure they are available to you and keep you fully informed at every stage of the process. We will hold your hand the entire way, ensuring your child is protected, and his or her welfare is paramount at all times.