Child Abduction and Relocation

There were approximately 975 child abduction offences recorded by Police in England and Wales in 2020 and 2021. That is a reduction of cases from 2018 and 2019, but nearly twice the amount of child abductions when compared with 2012 and 2013, when the figures were around 513 cases. The reduction is also likely to be due to restricted travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today it is more likely than ever, that individuals will leave the country in which they were born, for example to work or just to travel. This often then results in them forming relationships, and eventually having children together. There is therefore, not surprisingly, an increase in children moving between jurisdictions either by agreement, by order of the Court or because of parental child abduction.

If a child is wrongfully removed from a country by one parent, the other parent can potentially file an application under The Hague Convention. The United Kingdom is a party to an international convention under which legal procedures are agreed with a number of other countries (also party to the international convention) and this assists in the return of a child who has been abducted. The Convention works on the principle of returning children who have been wrongfully removed from  their country of habitual residence . The Courts are required to return a child who has been wrongfully removed unless there are specific grounds which can be successfully argued. These include;

  1. To return the child would expose them to a grave risk of harm
  2. Exposure to physical or psychological harm
  3. Child objects to the return
  4. Consent or Acquiesce has been given

It is of vital importance that anyone considering moving jurisdiction, or moving locations within England and Wales, obtain legal advice from a solicitor with expertise in this niche area of family law.

It is important to seek advice promptly in respect of relocation cases and even more so within international abduction cases. At Ellisons, our Family Solicitors are able to assist with cases such as these and act quickly and efficiently in accordance with the fast pace of these types of cases.

Article by: MaryCarmel Wilson

Contributing Advisors