Your Missing Child : What you can do in a Child Abduction situation

If you believe that the other parent or a family member is planning to take your child abroad without your permission, we are here to help.

    • Do you believe the other parent or a family member is planning to take your child abroad without your consent?
    • Has your child’s other parent or family member already taken your child out of the country without your permission?
    • Has your child not returned home following an agreed visit abroad?
    • Are you the parent or family member being accused of child abduction?

If the answer is yes to any one of these questions, you need to seek professional legal advice from a specialist dealing in child abduction cases.

Firstly, let’s look at what constitutes Child Abduction: It is the unauthorised removal of a child from one of their parents and/or from the country where they normally live by either parent.

It is a very serious matter which is dealt with through the civil courts, however, depending on the case itself, it could also be a criminal offence. Child abduction can happen in two ways:

Wrongful removal – the child is removed from the country or place in which they normally live without the correct permission.

Wrongful retention – the child is kept in another country or place in breach of an agreement, such as where it has been agreed that the child would travel and be returned on an agreed date.

Can a parent abduct their own child?

Yes. It may be hard to imagine that as a parent you would abduct your own child but if you are relocating or going abroad with your child, you must obtain the right permission before you go. If you do not have the right permission you could face civil and criminal penalties.

What permission do I need to take my child abroad?

This is very much dependent on the law in the country of residence. Generally, you should have consent from the other parent, or anyone who has parental responsibility, in writing along with any supporting legal documents.

What should I do if I think my child might be abducted?

You can apply for an urgent Court Order to prevent your child being taken out of the country. This can often be done without the other parent being made aware until the Order has been made.
If you feel that the risk of abduction is imminent, you could also get a Port Alert which can block them leaving the country. This only applies to high-risk and immediate situations. Other actions can include surrendering the child’s passport, an application for the police to ‘search and find’ if the child cannot be located or the implementation of disclosure/location orders.

My child is still in the country – is that child abduction?

Yes. Your child does not have to leave the country to have been abducted, they simply have been relocated to another place which isn’t their usual home without your consent. However, if you are aware that there is an intention to travel abroad, such as booked international flights, you should take urgent steps to prevent it.

My child has already left the country – what do I do?

Do not delay – any delay could be interpreted as consent. Contact the police, get a crime number, and ask them to arrange a Port Alert and speak to a specialist solicitor who deals with international child abduction.

I am the abducting parent but I have good reason for leaving.

There may be several reasons for leaving the country with your child. Before you do, you must obtain specialist legal advice and address the situation as soon as possible to avoid abduction charges.

Contact us

Here at Arlingsworth Solicitors, we understand how distressing, time critical and complex child abduction cases can be. We specialise in advising clients and dealing with associated agencies on your behalf on all aspects of child abduction and our dedicated team of experts are on hand 24/7 to provide professional legal advice and guidance.
Please contact our Brighton office on: +44 (0) 1273 696962 or our London office on: +44 (0) 203 358 0058. Alternatively, request a callback, or email You can also follow us on social media for any other important news and updates.