If you are worried about your child being abducted overseas by the other parent or a relative, you should contact our Child abduction section on 020 7008 0878 (or our switchboard on 020 7008 1500 outside office hours).
If your child has been abducted, we can tell you whether the country which your child has been taken to has joined the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. If it has, we can put you in touch with the relevant authorities in the UK which can ask the court in the country concerned to make an order for the child to be returned to the UK.
If the country to which your child has been taken has not joined the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, we can give you a list of overseas lawyers who speak English. Some may be specialists in family law. However, we cannot pay any legal fees ourselves.
We can give you basic practical information about the customs and legal procedures of the country. We can also provide travel information and, if necessary, offer guidance on finding accommodation locally. We can help you contact the relevant local authorities and organisations when you are overseas.
If you want us to, we can contact Interpol directly for help in tracing your child. If your child is found, and if the other parent agrees, we may be able to check on your child’s welfare for you if the country’s government cannot do this.
If you do not know where your child is, we can contact the relevant authorities overseas to check what progress has been made in finding him or her.
We will consider whether it is appropriate to ask a court overseas to handle any case as quickly as possible in the best interests of your child. With the UK court’s permission, we can tell the courts overseas about any UK court orders in place. But often, UK court orders cannot be enforced overseas and similar orders have to be applied for in the local courts.
We can consider ways to help establish and keep open lines of communication between you, the other parent and your child. Grandparents may also be involved in custody cases, for example, where one parent has died.
You should be aware that, in some countries, local law can favour the paternal grandparents (the father’s parents) over the mother. That makes it even more important to have formal residence arrangements in place before giving permission for the child to leave the UK.
We cannot rescue a child or get involved in any abduction.
We have a leaflet called International child abduction (with more general information) and a separate leaflet on Child abduction in Pakistan (with details of an agreement with Pakistan about handling these cases).