Are You Worried About Parental Abduction?
Risk of Parental Abduction
If you have reason to believe one or more of your children may be in danger of being abducted by their other parent there are measures you can take to prevent this happening.
It is important to act quickly and to seek immediate advice from a family lawyer. A family lawyer can help you obtain a court order – like a Residence and Prohibited Steps Orders under the Children Act 1989, which can determine which parent will primarily look after a child and should also help to stop your child being taken out of the country without your prior permission.
Immediate Risk of Parental Abduction
The charity Reunite has this advice for parents who suspect their former partner will attempt to abduct their child.
- Do not delay, seek immediate advice from a family lawyer. You may need to get a court rder – like a Residence and Prohibited Steps Orders under the Children Act 1989, which determines which parent will primarily look after a child and should also stop your child being taken out of the country without your prior permission.
- Write to the UK Passport Service and ask them not to grant your child a passport without your permission (this is only possible where you have got an order from the court in certain circumstances). The Passport Office has no power to ask for a passport to be surrendered if it has already been issued. If so advised they can however notify you if a passport has been applied for, which may then alert you to taking further steps.
- Contact the police. If they are convinced there is a real threat they can issue a 'port alert' to alert possible points of departure in the UK. How effective a port alert will be depends a lot on how much information you can supply them with – make sure that you have available a recent photo of your child and the other parent which can be circulated and if you have details of which port – airport or sea port for example – your child is likely to travel through, that will help the police focus their efforts.
Threat of Parental Abduction Within The Next 48 Hours
If you consider that there is a very serious threat that your child or children will be abducted in the next 48 hours you should take the following steps:
- Contact the police immediately (if possible go in person) and make an official allegation of child abduction. They can assess whether the threat is imminent and act accordingly. The police can then put out an ‘All Ports Warning’ in England and Wales. It is most effective if you can give them information about possible dates and times of flights.
- Contact Reunite.
- Contact a family solicitor who can make necessary arrangements for court orders. Solicitors can help with the following orders and more:
- Order for delivering up of passports.
- Order restraining issue of passports.
- Restraining order preventing abductor from removing the child from their residence.
- Interim Residence Order.
- Bond for return of the child after contact.
In the interim period between advising your solicitor and getting to court, you may wish to hide the passports of the abductor and child until you can get to court and withhold contact or even go into hiding until the matter comes to court. Always take legal advice on all issues to prevent breaking the law and to ensure your actions are in the best interests of your children.
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