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Family Law

How will children be protected from international abduction post Brexit?

How will children be protected from international abduction post Brexit?

Monday, December 14, 2020

Parental abduction is when one parent removes or keeps a child from the country they normally live in, without the agreement of the other parent.

A parent can only travel abroad with their child if everyone with parental responsibility agrees. Without this, a child cannot be removed from the UK, as this would be abduction – a criminal offence in the UK.

Child abduction can be devastating and have far-reaching consequences, not least for the children involved.

It most commonly occurs where;

  • A child has been taken to another country, either to live or for a holiday, without the other parent’s consent;
  • A child has been kept in another country, following a holiday or planned contact, without the other parent’s consent; or
  • There is a risk a child shall be taken to another country without the appropriate consent.

The Hague Convention assists in the return of a child that has been internationally abducted by a parent. However, the Convention has its limitations, not least the length of time it can often take for a child to be returned. Given the impact of parental abduction, it is vital that a child is returned quickly to limit any adverse effect on their emotional well-being.

Presently there are EU regulations in force which significantly enhance the provisions of The Hague Convention. These apply in cases where a child has been abducted from one EU member state to another EU member state. The EU Regulations include a stricter timetable, so abducted children are usually returned more quickly. The EU Regulations also provide a back-up mechanism that allows the child’s home country to make a final decision about what is best for the child.

At the end of the transition period (11 pm on 31 December 2020), the EU Regulations shall cease to apply. The UK will then return to the use of the Hague Convention, which diminishes the powers available to the English Courts.

If a parent is concerned that a child may be abducted by the other parent, it is important to act quickly. There are preventive steps that can be taken. Such as applying for a Child Arrangements Order and or asking the Police to contact the National Ports office to try and prevent the abduction.

It is crucial that all cases where a child has been abducted are dealt with as expeditiously as possible. If steps are not taken as soon as a child is removed it can become increasingly difficult to locate both the child and the abducting parent.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Family Team at Samuel Phillips Law if you require any advice in relation to parental child abduction on 0191 2328451 or email

Correct as at 11 December 2020, but the status of the Brexit negotiations are ever-changing so please contact us for more up to date information.

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