Parental child abduction - prevention is better than cure
- AuthorMike Devlin
The Foreign Office recently announced that there had been a 10% rise in the number of children abducted by a parent and taken to a country that was not signed up to a global child abduction treaty. The common abduction destinations are Pakistan, Thailand and India.
As a children law solicitor, I represented a mother whose children were abducted while on a family holiday in Pakistan. The children were, at the time, aged 6 and 4. They had been born and brought up in Manchester. In effect, the mother had been duped by her husband and his side of the family and the children simply ‘vanished’.
After exhausting all possible help in Pakistan, including the Police, she returned to England in the hope that there may be further action that could be taken from this country. Sadly, while the Foreign Office can provide advice and support, their role is limited because they cannot interfere in the laws of another country. Equally, the courts have limited powers as the children are no longer physically present in this country.
So, how can such abduction be prevented? It is not easy but there are some warning signs that parents could look out for – such as the breakdown of a relationship or a sudden interest in obtaining a passport or birth certificate. If a parent has any worries about a child being taken abroad they should seek consider not agreeing to any holiday and should consult with a solicitor who specialises in this area of law.
If agreement cannot be reached then the courts can decide whether or not such holidays are in the children’s best interests.
By family law solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Nick Hodson