How can I prevent my child being abducted?
The prospect of the other parent taking your child abroad, without your consent, is a frightening one. But with a rise in international relationships comes an increase in international separations, with some parents in bitter conflict about how and where their child should be raised.
Thankfully child abductions are rare – and international child abduction even more so.
If you think that your child is at risk of being abducted, there are steps you can take to manage the risk. Charmaine Moger, Associate and child abduction lawyer, looks at the options available to you.
Ensure you have parental responsibility: If you’re the father or in a same sex relationship and you’re not married to your child’s mother, you might not have parental responsibility. Without this, the other parent can take your child abroad – both for holidays and to relocate – without your consent, and there’s very little you can do to prevent this.
Speak to our family law solicitors about applying for parental responsibility. As well as helping you with your application, we can object to the temporary removal of your child from the UK.
Contact the police: Report your concerns to the police. They’ll assess whether the threat of abduction is real and imminent, and can issue an ‘all ports warning’. This alerts all border officials and ensures that your child’s details are included on an abduction list for 28 days.
Get a Prohibited Steps Order: A Prohibited Steps Order (PSO) can be used to prevent the other parent (assuming that they have parental responsibility) taking your child outside of the UK without your permission.
PSO applications are normally made by a parent of the child, but anyone with parental responsibility – including a stepparent or guardian – can apply. Action taken as part of a PSO may include confiscating the child’s passport and alerting the passport office to the risk of abduction.
Safeguard your child’s passport: If your child has a passport, you can voluntarily surrender it to prevent it being used to take them out the country. Alternatively store it somewhere safe and secure, and alert the authorities immediately if it goes missing.
Seek support: Reunite is a parental support network that helps parents through the legalities of international child abduction. You can contact them on 0116 255 6234 and their advice line is manned 24/7 for emergency help and support.
Taking preventative steps is crucial if your child is at threat of abduction. To speak to Charmaine about the measures that you can take, call our international child abduction team on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.