The Child Abduction Section of the Foreign Commonwealth Office have recently indicated they expect to see a vast increase in the number of parents taking their children abroad without the consent of the other parent. What the parent taking the child abroad may not realise is that they are in fact committing an offence under the 1984 Child Abduction Act.
For a child to be removed from the jurisdiction of England and Wales they require permission from everybody who holds Parental Responsibility. Therefore, if a parent is named on the Birth Certificate they will have Parental Responsibility and need to be consulted.
For parents who are worried that their children are about to be removed, either on a temporary or permanent basis, there are several steps that can be taken to counteract this.
Firstly, the parent can contact the Passport Agency to indicate that the parents are separated and not in agreement with regard to the child being removed from the country. They can therefore put a marker on the file in case an application for a lost passport is submitted.
Those applications that are more urgent where a child can potentially be taken out of the country within up to forty-eight hours, the Police do have certain powers to be able to register port alerts. This means that avenue of exiting the country is alerted to the fact that a child potentially may be abducted.
In cases involving those parents with dual nationality, a party may wish to contact that person’s Embassy to notify them of the situation and to ask that a passport is not issued to that person for the child.
Another avenue of course would be to apply to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order, which whilst this does not prevent the parent from leaving the country can prevent the child from leaving the country on an urgent basis. These Orders often can be applied for with very little notice being required.
In the event you need any advice with regard to children issues we have a very experienced team at FDR Law at our Warrington Office who are able to provide you with the important assistance you require. Contact us on 01925 230000.