There a number of different reasons that a parent might decide to take a child abroad, but without consent from both parents this act is viewed by law as child abduction and a serious breach of a parent’s right to custody.
Divorces bring with them a large amount of upheaval, not only for the spouses but also for any children who might be involved. Uncertainty over what is happening with their parents’ relationship and what the final outcome may mean for their own future can stir up a whole range of emotions in children. Because of this, parents will usually want to make swift decisions over where and with whom the child will live, in order to bring some stability back to their life.
In the UK, if parents cannot agree on whom the child will live with then the courts will be asked to decide, taking into account the child’s wishes, their needs, any risk of harm and the parents ability to care for the child.
This process can be further complicated should a parent wish to remove the child from the country, for example if one parent is from a foreign country and wishes to return there with their child. There are laws in place which mean that permission must be sought before going ahead with relocation.
In the 1970’s a number of countries came together to share concerns about the rise of child abduction. This was recognised by the “Hague Convention” and introduced in the UK with the Child Abduction and Custody Act (1985). This law aims to ensure that any child taken across borders without the permission of both parents will be returned to the country they were taken from, so the courts in that country can properly determine the future of that child’s custody.
These rules mean that if a parent wishes to relocate abroad with their child they must first seek permission from the other person who shares parental responsibility or alternatively apply to the court for permission who will take into account the practicality of the relocation, the practicality of continued contact with the parent who is left behind and their stance on the relocation.
If your child has been taken out of the country without your permission then you should contact the police and seek legal advice immediately. If you act early then the police may be able to stop your child from exiting borders, or be able to contact Interpol to help find your child.
Although many countries have joined the Hague Convention, if your child happens to be taken to a country which has not joined then there may be no system in place to help. In this scenario mediation with the other parent is needed and overseas legal proceedings may be required if an agreement cannot be reached.
If you are thinking of applying to re-locate your child, or if your partner is attempting to do so and you object, then you should seek advice from a solicitor experienced in international children cases. Here at Rollingsons we have extensive experience in international children cases, to arrange an initial consultation please contact us on 0207 7611 4848.