The circumstances where one parent makes a unilateral decision to move or keep their child in another country is often described as child abduction or, where the child is kept abroad, as an unlawful retention. Such situations are often traumatic for all involved and can be complex to resolve.
I recently acted for a mother whose children had been kept in another country by their father after a planned holiday to visit family (an ‘unlawful retention’). The children had been born in England and had lived here their whole lives and attended school in this country.
The county in which the children had been kept was not a signatory to the Hague Convention on child abduction and so the mother was not able to use that remedy to secure the children’s return here.
In such circumstances it can be very difficult to secure a child’s return but depending on the circumstances of the case it may be assistance can be obtained through the English courts through use of the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction or wardship.
In this case it was identified that an application to the High Court for orders under the court’s inherent jurisdiction would be appropriate. Supporting evidence in the form of statements and reports regarding the children were gathered and an application submitted to the court.
Given the circumstances of the case, we were able to persuade the court to make orders under its inherent jurisdiction for the children’s return to this country and importantly to ensure the father’s compliance with those orders. The children were returned to England and re-united with their mother, after several months apart and with no contact, and the children were then able to resume their lives and their education here.
How Stephensons can help
If you are a parent of a child and think that there is a risk that another person will remove them from the country, or you are worried about the risks of them not returning if you allow them to travel abroad, then you should seek legal advice urgently as there may be steps that you can take to prevent this or reduce the risks in relation to this.
If you are a parent of a child that has been removed from the country, or not returned to the country, without your agreement then it is important that you seek advice and act quickly as a delay in doing do so may reduce the chances of securing the child’s return.
Stephensons can advise you on the options open to you in the particular circumstances of your case and, where appropriate, represent you in any court proceedings to be brought in relation to the child. If you need advice please contact us on 0161 696 6193.