A situation may arise which leads a parent to fear that their child is at risk of being abducted from England and Wales to another country. A relationship may have broken down and one parent may learn that the other parent wishes to take the child back to their home country, in which they originally lived. It may be that this parent has a better support system in their home country and wishes to return to that country. It could also be that a parent learns that flight tickets have been booked for the child to travel without their consent being obtained. Threats to remove the child may have been made. Whatever the scenario, it is very important to obtain specialist legal advice urgently to consider what steps need to be taken to minimise the risk of the child being removed from England and Wales. This is to avoid having to commence difficult Court action to try and secure a child’s return. At TV Edwards LLP, we would suggest that a parent takes the following preventative action if it is considered that a child is at risk of abduction:
• Ensure that the child’s passport and any other travel documents are kept safe;
• Keep a copy of the child’s birth certificate and a recent photograph of the child and the possible abducting parent to hand;
• It is very important that a specialist solicitor dealing in international child abduction is contacted as soon as possible so that advice regarding the prevention of child abduction can be sought. These cases are highly specialist and it may be necessary for urgent legal work to be undertaken. It may be that an urgent application to the Court needs to be made for an Order to prevent the child being taken abroad. In these circumstances, the Court may also respectfully request that the UK Passport Office or the Embassy of another country does not issue any travel documents in respect of a particular child. If your child is a Dual National, then both the UK and the other country’s authorities must be notified to minimise the risk of the would be abducting parent travelling with the child on either passport. A Court Order can also include provision for the person who is in possession of the child’s passport to surrender any travel documents relating to the child.
• Inform the police if you consider that there is a risk of child abduction. The police are able to issue an ‘All Ports Alert’ which will assist in trying to prevent the removal of a child as the child’s details will be added on the national ports database for all UK points of departure with a warning that the child is not to be taken outside of the jurisdiction. The police will issue an “All Ports Alert” if it considers the risk of abduction is real and imminent. If you appoint a specialist solicitor then they will assist you with obtaining an “All Ports Alert” from the police or by way of a Court Order.
At TV Edwards LLP we understand that situations concerning child abduction can be stressful and upsetting. We are able to act quickly to try and prevent a child being removed. If you need legal advice relating to your child then please contact our specialist International children law team on 0203 440 8000 or A_FamilyReferrals@tvedwards.com