People are increasingly mobile around the world, with many spending time travelling or working outwith their home country. This results in many families have connections to countries outside Scotland. This can lead to difficulties if relationships break down. It is only natural to want to return ‘home’ with a child, but if a parent moves a child overseas without the consent of the other parent, or an order of the court, it could be considered child abduction, which can be a criminal offence.
What does international child abduction mean?
The term 'child abduction' refers to one parent taking a child under the age of 16 to another country, without prior consent from the other parent or permission from a court. For example, if a Spanish woman marries a Scottish man, they have a child and set up home in Scotland, the relationship breaks down and the mother wishes to return ‘home’ to Spain, she must seek the approval of the father or an order of the court before doing so. If not, the father can seek the return of the child to Scotland, at least in the short term.
Along with many other countries, the UK is a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The convention is supported through a variety of European laws, which set out to regulate the movement of children between EU countries.
The Hague Convention provides a mechanism for inter-country co-operation between signatory states to ensure the speedy return of children wrongfully removed from or retained outwith their home country.
I'm concerned my child may be abducted - how do I reduce the risk?
If you have any concerns that a child could be taken overseas without your permission, it is important to seek urgent legal advice.
Our experienced solicitors will be able to advise on the steps to take which will seek to minimise the risk of a child being abducted. Courts orders can be obtained to prevent the other parent from removing the child. This could also include the child being placed on the Airport Watch List or for a Child Alert Request to be sent to the Passport Office.
What do I do if my child has been removed from the UK without my consent?
Drummond Miller are recognised as specialists in international child abduction, and regularly act for parents who find themselves dealing with issues in this area. We are also regularly appointed by the Scottish Government to represent parents whose children have been brought to Scotland without their consent.
The laws surrounding international child abduction are complex and issues can develop quickly unless immediate action is taken. The steps to take will depend on where the child has been taken to and your relationship to the child. Any delay in acting on your concerns could impact the success of an application made through the Hague Convention, so it is essential to seek advice as soon as an issue arises.
We are able to provide detailed and compassionate advice on the laws surrounding international child abduction and how they may apply to your individual circumstances.
Our team of family lawyers regularly act for parents whose children have been removed from this country, parents whose children have been brought to Scotland and for for parents who have removed children to Scotland prior to seeking the required consent. If you would like to speak to an experienced family lawyer, please contact our Family Law Team today at any one of our offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dalkeith, Bathgate or Musselburgh.