Parent Child Abduction.

Wrongful Child Retention & Parental Kidnapping Lawyers.

With more and more families having connections overseas, the possibility of child abduction, on the breakdown of a relationship, has increased significantly.

If a child has been removed without consent from their usual home country, or has not been returned from a holiday overseas, it is vital that action is taken immediately.

Child abduction, sometimes called wrongful removal or wrongful retention, can occur if one parent wants to live in a different country after the relationship between the child’s parents has ended. In some cases, a child is taken overseas as a deliberate tactic during a custody dispute; some parents relocate with a child in the genuine belief that it is their right to do so. Whatever the circumstances, you need clear, expert advice so you can take the urgent action required.

Cases of child abduction are always emotive, with the media often referring to child kidnapping, child snatching, or child capturing. We have the knowledge and experience to sensitively guide and support you through such a stressful and difficult time. We understand how the law works in this complex, fast-moving area, and will decisively and pro-actively lead you through the process.

If your child has been relocated to another country without consent, either by you or by your former partner, or if you are concerned that they might be, contact us immediately.

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What is Child Abduction?

Child abduction is the legal term used when a child is taken or kept away from their usual country of residence without the consent of both parents, or the permission of the court. Factors such as cheap international travel and increased international migration have led to an increase in child abduction in recent years on the break-down of trans-national relationships.

It is considered to be a form of child abuse and is a violation of the child’s rights. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction has been signed by many countries to acknowledge the significance of this issue, and to make the process of returning a child more straightforward.

If the country to which your child is taken has not signed up to the Hague Convention, we will advise and support you through that process. The Child Abduction Act 1984 makes child abduction a criminal offence, regardless of the country to which the child is taken.

Our Parental Child Abduction Expertise

An experienced, accomplished lawyer will be by your side throughout the process, providing a consistent point of contact to give you peace of mind. We are proud of our reputation for friendly and approachable service, in addition to our legal expertise.

How can Lanyon Bowdler help in child abduction cases?

Our team has vast experience in all areas of child and family law, which has been recognised throughout the industry. The 2024 edition of The Legal 500 directory notes that: “On the children side, the group frequently advises on internal and external relocation cases, domestic violence and cases involving significant welfare issues.” Furthermore, we are ranked in the 2024 edition of Chambers UK, which describes the way we support clients in “complex Children Act matters involving allegations of criminal behaviour and domestic abuse”.

One of our clients, quoted in an edition of the Chambers UK directory, described how they “feel supported all the time and like I am truly their sole interest”. In cases involving children, it is vital you get advice from someone who is compassionate and understanding, as well as highly skilled and knowledgeable in the law.

We have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, not only in recognition of the incredible work done by current and former military personnel, but also as a sign of our commitment to fully understanding our clients. Members, or former members, of the military are one group whose international lifestyle may leave them vulnerable to child abduction on the breakdown of a relationship. No matter what your background or circumstances, we are here to support you.

Your Parental Child Abduction questions answered

What is required to prove child abduction?

For child abduction to be proven:

  • The child must be under 16
  • The child must have been removed from their usual country of residence, or retained in a different country to their usual country of residence
  • The removal or retention must breach the custody rights of the left behind parent
  • The left behind parent must have been exercising those custody rights at the time of removal or retention

To show that a country is a child’s “usual country of residence”, it is important to show they are part of social and/or family networks in that country. An example of this might be where the child goes to school. Where families live in more than one country (if the parents have jobs requiring a lot of travel, for example), it can be difficult to determine the child’s “usual country of residence”. .

If child abduction has taken place, urgent proceedings  should be started. Time is of the essence in these cases, so please contact us immediately for expert advice.

What can I do if I suspect my partner is planning to relocate my child?

If you suspect your partner may be considering removing your child from their usual country of residence, it is important that you act quickly and decisively. It is far easier to prevent child removal/relocation  than it is to go through the legal process to have a child returned.

A prohibited steps order can be issued by a court, which prevents the child’s other parent taking them out of the country without your consent. The court can also order that a child’s passport be surrendered.

Other practical steps you could take to prevent your child being taken overseas are:

  • Contact the passport agency to request that they do not issue a new passport to your child.
  • Notify the police and border authorities that you fear your child might be abducted.
What can I do if I suspect my partner is planning to relocate my child?

If you suspect your partner may be considering removing your child from their usual country of residence, it is important that you act quickly and decisively. It is far easier to prevent child removal/relocation  than it is to go through the legal process to have a child returned.

A prohibited steps order can be issued by a court, which prevents the child’s other parent taking them out of the country without your consent. The court can also order that a child’s passport be surrendered.

Other practical steps you could take to prevent your child being taken overseas are:

Contact the passport agency to request that they do not issue a new passport to your child.

Notify the police and border authorities that you fear your child might be abducted.

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What our clients say.

I would not hesitate to recommend LB Solicitors to anyone needing guidance and representation for family law or divorce proceedings. My solicitor was thorough and diligent, balancing professional rigour with fairness, reasonableness and sensitivity. I feel this approach helped me to obtain a satisfactory settlement avoiding costly and unnecessary conflict.

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An excellent service with solicitors that you can talk to and who give you a clear understanding of all necessary legal implications and interpretations.

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From start to finish we had excellent service. Friendly, approachable and professional.

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Used Lanyon Bowdler for conveyancing and for legal advice – both solicitors I worked with were effective and professional. Law firm was fast and responsive to queries and clear pricing.

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I was impressed with the forensic approach to identifying, securing, assessing and presenting evidence over the two years that it took to finally resolve the issue.

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Whenever I have had need to contact Lanyon Bowdler I have always received a fast, concise and friendly response.

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Great Service; Lanyon Bowdler were excellent from the outset. Straightforward and easy process. I just sat back and waited.

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Everything has been professional, efficient and courteous throughout and we are very pleased, both with the service and with the eventual outcome of our case. Everything was first class and exceeded our expectations. Thank you again for providing such splendid service. It is really appreciated.

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I’m Worried my Child will be Relocated Overseas from the UK – Can you Help me?

There are a number of possible options, depending on the circumstances. The best approach is to take precautions before your child is taken from the UK.

If your partner, or former partner, is intending to take your child on a trip abroad, it is vital to show that you are not consenting to their removal from the UK. Steps you can take to prove this include:

Confirming in writing that you consent to the child travelling for a holiday, but not to them relocating to another country. You should make clear in this communication the date you expect the child to return.

Taking a copy of the child’s passport and ensuring you have their original birth certificate.

Confirming the details of the flight (or other travel arrangements), as well as the accommodation for the trip.

If your child is already overseas, it might be advisable, depending on the circumstances, to take legal action both in England or Wales, and the country to which the child has been taken. We will always carefully consider all the factors in your case to determine whether dual legal proceedings are the correct approach.

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Contact the Child Law Solicitors at Lanyon Bowdler

Give us a call for a friendly, confidential, chat about how we can help support you when you or your family need legal advice and representation. Contact a member of the team or complete our online enquiry form.

By choosing Lanyon Bowdler for child law legal advice, you can rest assured that you have the best legal expertise on hand no matter what the situation. We are committed to providing exceptional levels of client care and will work closely and considerately with you to help find the best outcomes. Our Family Law team has great experience in all areas of family law and family mediation.

We have offices in ShrewsburyBromyardConwyHerefordLudlowOswestry and Telford, regularly acting on behalf of clients across Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales and throughout the Midlands, including Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

As a leading full-service law firm however, we can represent you wherever you live in England or Wales, so don’t hesitate to take advice from the family law experts.

If you or a loved one needs legal advice or representation then please give us a call for a friendly, confidential chat about how we can help support you. Contact a member of the team on the phone or by completing the online enquiry form.

Our people

Meet the team.

Sue Hodgson
Sue Hodgson
Partner
Family Law
Jon Moriarty
Jon Moriarty
Partner
Family Law
Philippa Pearson
Philippa Pearson
Partner
Family Law
Georgia Rowney
Georgia Rowney
Legal Assistant
Family Law
Lizzie Cross
Lizzie Cross
Trainee Solicitor
Family
Mia Williams
Mia Williams
Trainee Solicitor
Family Law
Anne Lewis
Anne Lewis
Associate Legal Executive (FCILEX)
Family Law
Lisa Grimmett
Lisa Grimmett
Associate Solicitor
Family Law
Caroline Yorke
Caroline Yorke
Associate Solicitor
Family Law
Fiona Cooper
Fiona Cooper
Legal Assistant
Family Law
Rachel Tomley
Rachel Tomley
Solicitor
Family Law
Erin Payne
Erin Payne
Paralegal Apprentice
Family Law
Staci Robinson
Staci Robinson
Associate Solicitor
Family Law
Laura Jones
Laura Jones
Solicitor
Family Law
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