Parental child abduction occurs when a person who is connected to a child takes them away from their country of habitual residence, that is the country they normally reside in, without the permission of either those with parental responsibility or the courts.

Most commonly, this takes place following a separation or divorce and is carried out by the parent who has not been awarded custody of the child.

Once a relatively rare phenomenon, an increase in cross-cultural marriages, higher divorce rates, changes in immigration laws and cheaper foreign travel have prompted a rise in international child custody disputes, some of which have resulted in parental child abduction as parents seek to take their children out of the country without permission.

Is It A Criminal Offence For A Parent To Abduct A Child?

Under the Child Abduction Act of 1984, it is a criminal offence for anyone connected with a child to take them out of the UK for more than 28 days without the consent of any other person who has parental responsibility for that child or a consenting order from the courts. A person is connected with the child if they are parent of the child, guardian or special guardian, anyone who has a residence order for the child or who has the child living with them.

Those required to give their consent would be the mother, the father (if he has parental responsibility), guardian, special guardian or anyone who has the child living with them or has permission from the court.

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