If your child has been taken to another country without your permission or has been kept in another country for longer than an agreed holiday or visit, you need to seek urgent advice from a solicitor. The Family Law Company are specialists in addressing these matters with experienced solicitors to guide you through the steps you need to take to seek the return of your child or children.
Where your child has been taken or kept abroad, try not to panic. Contact a specialist solicitor immediately and begin to gather together relevant documents. These should be shown to your solicitor as soon as possible. Relevant documents include a recent photo of the child and the parent who has taken or retained the child; copies of any passports belonging to the child; copies of any relevant court orders relating to the child; a list of possible addresses where you believe the child may be; and any other documents that you believe to be relevant.
At TFLC we can assist you to seek relevant court orders and/or to initiate an application for the return of the child through the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU). This is the designated Central Authority for the operation of three international treaties which may assist you:
1) The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
2) The 1980 European Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions concerning Custody of Children
3) The 1996 Hague Convention on Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children.
To ascertain if your child has been taken to a signatory to one of the above treaties you can find out at www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions and www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list.
If you know or believe that your child is in a country which is not a party to one of the above treaties there may be a bilateral or international protocol which could assist you. At TFLC we can guide you through the relevant process.
Guidance can also be sought from the leading international child abduction charity – this has a comprehensive website giving guidance to parents: www.reunite.org.
TFLC are members of Reunite and also accredited by the ICACU to assist in dealing with cases where applications are made for children to return to their place of habitual residence or for parents living outside of the UK seeking contact with children if they are living in England and Wales.