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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

International child abduction

If your child is abducted and taken overseas, you are advised to inform the police, as a criminal offence may have been committed.

Getting your child back

Your chance of recovering your child will depend on the customs and laws of the country to which the child has been taken, as well as the attitude of, and your relationship with, the person who has taken the child.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides advice on what to do and who to contact if your child has been abducted overseas, or if you fear that this might happen. It can also provide practical help when dealing with authorities overseas, as cultural differences need to be appreciated and understood.

The FCO can:

  • provide you with a list of overseas lawyers who speak English - some will be specialists in family law
  • approach Interpol in the UK and overseas authorities for help in tracing the child
  • where possible, and with the other parent's consent, visit a child to check that they are safe
  • obtain a welfare report once the child is located, with the other parent's consent
  • press the courts overseas to handle a court case as quickly as possible in the best interests of the child and with the UK Court's permission
  • draw to the attention of the courts overseas the existence of any UK court orders
  • help establish and keep open lines of communication between you, the other parent and your child
  • provide travel advice and help with finding safe accommodation locally
  • sometimes provide informal translations of key documents in exceptional circumstances only
  • in exceptional cases, attend court hearings

The FCO can't:

  • get your child back for you - this must be for the courts overseas to decide
  • interfere in the legal system of another country
  • provide legal advice
  • become involved in illegal attempts to repatriate children
  • pay legal costs
  • fund air travel
  • obtain visas

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