Lawyers Highlight ‘Delicate’ Situation For Both Parents And Children During Separation
A leading family lawyer has urged caution over ‘child abductions’ over the festive period as separated families across Britain prepare for one of their most difficult weeks, with many having to battle over the contact they have with their children.
Louise Halford, a family lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, specialises in child abduction cases which over the past few years have risen significantly during December as newly divorced parents refuse to return their children after Christmas holidays.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) says that over the past decade the number of child abduction cases has doubled with 580 cases in 2012-13 – with the Charity Reunite also confirming that they see spikes in the summer and at Christmas.
The latest statistics also show that over 100,000 children under 16 are involved in divorce proceedings each year and Irwin Mitchell’s expert family lawyers are concerned that many families may struggle with the prospect of dealing with separation over the Christmas period for the first time.
Louise Halford, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell, which has offices and represents clients across the country, said:
Spain, USA and Pakistan were among the most common destinations for child abductions from the UK in 2012 but Louise at Irwin Mitchell has worked on cases from many different countries across the world including Dubai and the Middle East.
She added: “If parents are concerned either about their children being ‘retained’ by the other parent or want their children to move to another country, it is vital they seek specialist legal advice as they could face a prison sentence if they do not follow the appropriate procedures.”
If there is a concern that a child may be taken out of the country and not returned then the following measures could be taken:
- Insisting that contact with the child is supervised
- Surrendering the passport of the parent or child by getting an order from court if necessary
- Notify the relevant passport authorities in case of any further application for new documents
- Notify airports and ports of the potential risk of child abduction
- There is also the potential for a bond or security to be obtained if a child has to travel.