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What is child abduction?

Child abduction happens when a person sends or takes a child under the age of sixteen out of the United Kingdom without the appropriate consent of those who have parental responsibility. It is a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984 for a person connected with a child to take them out of the country without appropriate consent. The following persons demonstrate this connection:

What is ‘appropriate consent’?

If there is one parent with sole parental responsibility who wishes to take the child out of the United Kingdom, they may do so lawfully so long as permission has been obtained from the Court. The parent should as a matter of good practice obtain consent from:

If the parent is unable to obtain appropriate consent or two or more people with parental responsibility cannot reach an agreement, the Court may be asked for its permission to take the child out of the United Kingdom.

What factors will the court will they decide the matter of giving permission?

The welfare of the child is the primary concern of the Court and therefore they will give consideration to the following:

Also, the Court is likely to assess the wishes of both parents with regards to the above, assess the future plans of the Resident parent and how capable either parent is in caring for the child.

What should a person with parental responsibility do if the child has taken without the appropriate consent?

The police should be notified immediately when a child has been abducted and it is considered that the child may be in danger. They will use the Child Rescue Alert Scheme, where local radio and television stations are notified of the situation. A solicitor or organisations such as the Child Abduction Unit at the Official Solicitors Department should be notified also as they can provide specialist help and advice.

It is important that help and advice is obtained as soon as possible because the longer the child remains in the new environment, the more reluctant a Court is to rule that the child return as it may not be in their best interest.