This snapshot, taken on
01/11/2002
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Q:  I am worried that my partner is going to take my children abroad and that I won’t see them again. What should I do?
A:  Child abduction is preventable. There are lots of things you can do to stop it from happening.

Contact the Police. If they consider the threat of abduction to be real and imminent, they can issue an 'All Ports' warning. Your children’s names will then appear at all UK ports of departure.

Contact Reunite (tel: 020 7375 3440), an international charity with expertise in preventing child abduction. They can send you a prevention pack, which gives more information about how you can prevent abduction. They can also send you their list of family lawyers.

Consult a solicitor in the UK. The solicitor can advise you about making your child a ward of court, or putting other court orders in place to reduce the chances of abduction. If you are not married, you should apply for parental responsibility. You should keep all relevant papers with you, such as existing UK court orders giving you custody or access, or a prohibited steps order.

Keep your child’s passport safe, somewhere out of the family home.

If your child is a dual national, write to the Embassy of his/her other nationality, asking them not to issue a passport for your child without your consent and asking them to notify you if a passport application is submitted. If the threat persists, you should do this regularly (every few months).

Contact the UK Passport Agency (tel: 0870 521 0410) and ask them not to issue a passport to your child without your consent.

Try to find out as much information as you can about your partner’s relatives (addresses and phone numbers) to help locate your children in the event of an abduction.


Q:  My husband/wife has abducted my child overseas during an access visit. Can you find my child and return him to me?
A:  Child abduction is a criminal offence in the UK. We cannot return your child to you, but we can provide advice and support you through this traumatic experience. You will need to be proactive. You should:

Report the incident to the Police. They can decide whether or not to press charges.

Contact a solicitor in the UK. They can advise you about making your child a ward of court. If you have an existing UK court order giving you custody or access, keep it handy.

Contact the Child Abduction Unit in the Lord Chancellor’s Department (tel: 0207 911 7045/7047). Some countries are members of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction (PDF file, 10K), an international agreement which seeks to return abducted children to the country where they normally live so the courts there can decide on custody and access. If your child has been abducted to a Hague Convention country, the Child Abduction Unit can help you to make an application for the return of your child to the UK.

If your child has been abducted to a country that is not a member of the Hague Convention, the scope for action is much more limited. You will have to apply through the legal system of that country for custody of your child. But there are still things the Foreign and Commonwealth Office can do to help. Contact Consular Division (tel: 020 7270 1500) and ask to speak to the desk officer of the country concerned. They can give you advice, put you in touch with the British Consul in the country to which your child has been abducted, and provide you with a list of lawyers with expertise in family law for that country.

Contact Reunite (tel: 020 7375 3440), an international charity with expertise in child abduction. They can offer support and advice, and provide you with their list of lawyers.

If your child has been abducted, our Consuls can:
  • Approach the authorities for help in tracing your children.
  • Once your children are located and with the other parent’s consent, ask for a welfare report.
  • Press the local courts to handle the case quickly in the best interests of the child.
  • With the UK court’s permission, draw to the attention of the local authorities the existence of any UK court orders.
  • Press local authorities to ensure that local court orders in your favour are enforced.


Q:  My ex-partner took my children on holiday abroad with my consent but now he won’t send them home. What can I do?
A:  Retention of your children abroad is not a criminal offence in the UK. We cannot return your children to you, but we can provide advice and support you through this traumatic experience. You will need to be proactive. You should read the answer to the question above: the information in it applies to you.
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