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| 1 minute read

Thinking of taking your children abroad?

Many parents may be planning a holiday or trip abroad with their child(ren) for later this year. For separated parents this means adding an extra item to their 'to-do' list: obtaining the other parent's express consent to the holiday or trip. If a child is taken to another country without consent then this is considered to be child abduction which is a criminal offence in England and Wales.

A father was recently prosecuted in Bournemouth after abducting his toddler daughter to Belgium for seven months despite her mother not consenting to this. A number of international conventions exist between England and other countries which allow children to be promptly returned to their home country (usually within six weeks). Children will be returned unless the alleged abducting parent can establish one of the limited defences. In this case, the mother successfully made an application in Belgium for the child's return to Bournemouth. The father was then arrested when he returned to England and sentenced to two years' imprisonment suspended for two years. This is a timely reminder to parents that they should obtain the other parent's consent to the removal of the child and to consider the implications of not doing so with a specialist family lawyer. 

Whether you have been accused of child abduction, or are thinking about taking a child to another country, advice will be needed from a specialist solicitor from a very early stage. Victoria Batstone is experienced in dealing with child abduction cases, is listed as a specialist lawyer with the charity Reunite and is a founding member of the Child Abduction Lawyers Association. If you or someone else requires advice regarding child abduction matters then Victoria will be happy to assist. 

The defendant kept the child in Belgium for seven months. Althea Brooks, prosecuting, said the defendant took the baby “at a crucial time” in her development and highlighted how he only returned her to the UK after an International Court of Justice order was made. The father did maintain contact with his ex-partner throughout his time in Belgium and would FaceTime her with their daughter. In a victim impact statement, the girl’s mother told the court: “What’s the point of my life without my child? It broke my heart to see my daughter only on video calls.” Upon returning to the UK, the man was arrested. Having initially pleaded not guilty to the abduction of his daughter, he changed his plea on day two of his criminal trial and admitted an offence of abduction of child by parent.


family law