In December last year during the school break, when many parents may have been considering going abroad on a family holiday, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) released guidance reminding parents where they could access support if they were affected by international parental child abduction.
As Andrew Stephenson MP explained at the time, the period over Christmas and New Year when schools break up is a time when parental child abductions tend to spike.
While things will no doubt be a little different this year, with Covid putting the festive family break – and indeed almost any travel – on hold, it’s still important to understand what international child abduction is and ensure that you don’t fall foul of the law without realising it.
What is international parental child abduction?
International child abduction by a parent happens when one parent takes (or keeps) a child out of the UK (or the country they normally live in), without seeking permission from the other parent or in breach of a court order.
This means that if one parent takes their child to a foreign country without getting the other parent’s consent (and the consent of anyone else with parental responsibility), this could be viewed as parental child abduction (unless they have a court order allowing them to do so).
Research published in 2010 revealed that around 1 in 3 people didn’t realise that if they took their child abroad without the consent of the other parent, this may amount to child abduction under UK law.
Can I take my child abroad on holiday without breaking the law?
If there is a child arrangements order stating that your child should live with you, you may be able to go on holiday to a foreign country with your child, for a maximum of 28 days, without obtaining permission from anyone else with parental responsibility (unless there is a court order that says otherwise).
If not, you would need to get the consent of anyone else with parental responsibility before travelling abroad.
Moving overseas with a child: why it is vital to seek legal advice as early on as possible
If one parent wants to move abroad with their child and the other doesn’t want them to go, finding a compromise is often very difficult, as either the child stays in the UK or goes abroad.
Obtaining legal advice from a solicitor experienced in this area of law, such as Grayfords, is important not only to prepare for a potential court case but also to ensure that, if necessary, urgent steps are taken to stop the child from being removed from the country.
Get in touch to book your free initial consultation with one of our family lawyers to find out more.