Though no parent likes to think it, there are some children who are abducted by their own family members. These children are usually abducted by one of their parents after a separation or divorce, and there has been a rise in the number of family abductions that result in the child being taken out of the UK and to another country.
What is Child Abduction within the Family?
Child abduction within the family occurs when a relative takes a child without the permission of the custodial parents or the courts. Most often this relative is a parent who has not been granted guardianship of their child. Though this type of abduction is still a kidnapping, rarely is the criminal law applied in such cases.
How can the Guardian Parent get the Child Back?
While child abduction within the family is a crime, anecdotal evidence suggests that the guardian parent will need to motivate the courts to return their child. That is to say that the guardian parent will have to contact and use the courts in their particular case, and the courts themselves will not likely start proceedings otherwise. Guardian parents who want to bring their children back to their homes should start sooner rather than later, while the courts will still believe it is in the child’s best interest to be returned to the home of the guardian parent.
Why are International Abductions within the Family Increasing?
Statistics from an international child abduction charity suggests that international child abductions within the family have increased by 87% since 1995. The reasons for this increase include:
- A rise in the number of parents who break up with each other, including through divorce.
- A rise in the number of Britons marrying foreign nationals (meaning that these partners will become parents with origins and possibly residences in other countries).
- Cheaper international travel options, which allows more parents to purchase passage for themselves and their children to other countries.
- Greater familiarity with immigration laws, which means that more Britons are aware of where and how they can work in other countries, particularly those in the European Union.
How can Parents Guard their Children Against an International Abduction?
There are many things that a guardian parent can do to prevent their ex-partner from taking their children across international boundaries, such as:
- Obtain a court order as to the custody or residence of their children. If the child ordinarily resides in Scotland or was abducted from Scotland, a court order is necessary for it to be considered an abduction.
- Prevent passports from being issued for their children. You will likely need an order of the court as well as this request in writing.
- Tell the police of your suspicions.
- Request a Port Warning or Port Alert in urgent/imminent circumstances. Only the police are able to issue such an alert, and only when there is good reason to believe that the child may be taken out of the country.
- Contact a solicitor to discuss their personal situation and transmit this information to the partner they believe may be thinking of abducting their children.
Child abduction within the family is a crime much like any other type of child abduction. If you fear there is a threat that your child may be abducted by another family member, take necessary precautions to keep him/her safe, and if the worst does happen Report The Abduction immediately. Don’t hesitate, or you may regret the wait later.