Child abduction is becoming an increasingly worrying occurrence in today’s world. According to the Office of the Official Solicitor and Public Trustee there were 402 new referred cases of child abduction in 2005, 432 in 2006, 461 in 2007, 508 in 2008 and 543 in 2009 – alarmingly those figures are growing.
Furthermore, latest figures released by reunite International Child Abduction Centre showed a 47% cent increase in the number of child abduction cases reported to their advice line.
The above figures represent the reported cases….and what about all those cases that are not?
Alison Shalaby, reunite´s Acting Director, said: “It is concerning that we have seen such a large increase in the number of children abducted, especially as we know this is just the tip of the iceberg – many cases go unreported either to ourselves or government departments”.
“There are many reasons why a parent may abduct their child. For some it may be a deliberate act to deny the other parent contact, for others there may be sociological or economic factors, or in some instances a parent may abduct their child out of fear for the child´s safety. Whatever the reason, parental child abduction causes real harm to children who potentially suffer great emotional trauma by suddenly being ripped away from all they know and being denied contact with their left-behind parent and extended family.”
There are 3 broad categories of child abduction:
Abduction – where a child is taken out of the jurisdiction without the other parent’s consent – this may be a criminal offence under UK law (except in Scotland)
Wrongful retention – where a child has been retained in a foreign country following an overseas trip
Threat of abduction – where there is a risk of that a child will be taken out of the jurisdiction
How the particular case will be dealt with depends on whether the child has been abducted to a Hague Convention or non Hague Convention country.
The former include countries which signed up to an agreement aiming to ensure the return of an abducted child to the country where he or she normally lives, so that issues of residence (custody) and contact (access) can be decided by the courts of that country.
If the child has been taken to a country that has not signed up to the Hague Convention the matter becomes more complicated as the parent may have to apply for residence and permission to bring the child back to England and Wales through the courts of that particular country.
If your child has been abducted or there is a threat of abduction, you must act quickly.
If you have any concerns about the above issues, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team at Maguire Family Law who would be happy to assist you.
Maguire Family Law is a specialist firm of Family Law and Divorce Law solicitors based in Wilmslow, Cheshire. We offer legal advice to parties going through a divorce including the financial issues which flow from this (including pensions), linked business issues, international aspects and any relevant issues concerning the children. We also offer legal advice in relation to matters covered in this blog and general Children Law advice.