0345 604 4911

Child Abduction Solicitors

"Irwin Mitchell’s ‘very knowledgeable and compassionate’ team ‘provides fantastic advice’"

Legal 500, 2016

"Irwin Mitchell’s ‘very knowledgeable and compassionate’ team ‘provides fantastic advice’"

Legal 500, 2016

If your child’s other parent takes them from you without your consent, it is essential that you take expert advice about your situation as quickly as possible.

Our experienced family law experts are well placed to help you in any of the following situations:

  • Your child has been taken from one part of the UK to another by the other parent without your consent
  • Your child is at risk of being – or already has been – taken overseas from the UK without your consent.

If your child is in the UK, we can petition the courts on your behalf to have the child returned to your care. We have decades of experience dealing with family law courts in the UK, and will provide you with clear and detailed advice on your options.

If your child has been taken overseas, it's important you have a legal team on your side who not only knows the relevant international agreements and protocols, but also has access to an extensive network of foreign lawyers who can make legal applications on your behalf abroad.

We’ve worked on cases around the world including Europe, the Middle East, the USA, Australia, Asia and the Far East. We have both the experience and the contacts to ensure that you work with high-class legal teams across the world.

Our family law experts can also help if you:

  • Would like to arrange contact with your child who lives in another country and the other parent is not agreeable
  • Wish to relocate to another country with your child or you wish to oppose the other parent’s plans to do so
  • Have brought your child to the UK from another country and the other parent objects.

Child abduction cases can be traumatic and often complex – especially when foreign laws must be considered. You need a team you can trust to work as quickly as possible to get the result you want.

For more help and advice, call us today on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.


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  • Ros Bever
  • National Head of Family Law
Meet the team
Martin Loxley
Martin Loxley Sheffield

"Absolutely fantastic", a "nationally known, pragmatic, and a hard negotiator."

Legal 500, 2016

What The Experts Say About Our Team

Elizabeth Hicks London

Chambers & Partners, 2017 logo"Formidable... bats at the very highest level... she is absolutely first-rate and completely unflappable."

Chambers & Partners, 2017
More Information - Child Abduction Solicitors
    • What If My Child Has Been Taken Abroad?
    • If your child has been taken abroad, there may be international agreements in place to help you secure a swift return of your child, such as the Hague Convention and the Brussels II Regulation. If your child has been taken to a country that is not part of either of these agreements, the case may be more complex, but we can still help.

      These agreements are frequently used to reunite children with parents here in the UK, but it is important to have experts on your side who know how they work and how to start legal proceedings abroad. We've dealt with many cases of international child custody – in one recent example we successfully secured the return of a child that had been retained in Malta by their father, following a holiday there. This was after the Maltese government initially refused to return the child.

      We have an extensive network of foreign solicitors who we can call upon to process your case, whether that's under the agreements listed above or by other means. This means you only have to deal with our team here in the UK, but will have highly skilled representatives acting on your behalf abroad.

      If your child has been taken abroad without your consent, time is of the essence. Call us today on 0345 604 4911, or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


    • What Is The Hague Convention? Which Countries Participate?
    • The 1980 Hague Convention is an international agreement where participating governments have agreed to co-operate in cases of child abduction. The signed-up governments agree to share information and make sure that any child that is unlawfully taken from its country of residence and brought into their territory is returned as quickly as possible.

      There are a total of 94 countries that have signed up to the Hague Convention, including European countries, and many across Asia, Africa and North America.

      The Hague Convention has been used in many cases where children have been taken from the UK without the consent of one of their parents. We have experience dealing with the Hague Convention, and can talk you through the process if your child has been taken abroad.

      In some cases of child abduction legal aid funding may be available to the left behind parent. Unfortunately we can’t accept legal aid cases, but if we believe that you may be entitled to legal aid, we will refer you to a firm that can help you.

      We have an extensive network of foreign lawyers we can utilise to ensure your child's safe return under the Hague Convention. To find out if the Hague Convention applies in your case and talk to an expert lawyer, call us today on 0345 604 4911, or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


Ursula Danagher Chichester, London

Legal 500, 2016 logo "The very experienced and able Ursula Danagher is skilled at handling the big-money cases"

Legal 500, 2016

Frequently Asked Question

What's The Process?

If your child has been taken from the UK (known as removal) or not returned at the end of contact time (called wrongful retention), it is important to get in contact with our experienced child abduction solicitors as soon as possible.

They will be able to advise you on whether any international agreements or protocols to return your child apply, assisting you with any legal applications you might have to make.

A child abduction is considered to have taken place when the following four conditions are met:

  • The child involved is under the age of 16
  • The child has been removed from the country where they usually live or is being wrongfully retained in another country
  • The removal or retention has taken place in breach of the left-behind parent’s rights of custody
  • The left-behind parent was exercising those rights of custody at the time the removal or retention took place.

Our specialist child abduction solicitors are experienced in working with left-behind parents as well as parents against whom allegations of abduction have been raised, and we have an extensive network of foreign lawyers we can liaise with on your behalf.

If you live abroad but your child has been brought to the UK without your consent, in line with the conditions above, we can petition the UK courts to have the child returned to you.

You may find that the abductor challenges the return of your child. Their defences may include:

  • A contention that the child would be placed in an intolerable situation or at risk of grave harm if they were returned to you
  • That the child is now settled in their new country
  • That the child objects to returning to your care.

Obviously, this is a highly emotive subject, and dealing with legal issues as well as strong personal feelings can make things difficult. Every case is different, but it pays to have a legal team who can provide you with expert, up-front advice on your circumstances and the likely progress of your case.

If you would like to speak to a member of our child abduction team, call us today on 0345 604 4911, or contact us online and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.


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How Long Will It Take To Get My Child Back?

It is difficult to give a timeline as it all depends on your circumstances and whether the return is challenged. The location the child has been taken to also has a significant bearing on the speed of the process.

If your child has been taken to one of the countries signed up to The 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction, you must apply within one year of the abduction and, if none of the defences outlined above are mounted, they will be returned. If your child has been taken to one of the countries signed up to the European Union Brussels II legislation, it aims to resolve applications within six weeks of submission.

If your child has been taken to a country that falls outside of either of these agreements, then we must work with the laws in that particular country. If this is the case, contact us straight away so we can discuss your circumstances. You can call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.


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What If My Ex Has Relocated In The UK?

If a parent has relocated within England and Wales, in contravention of the terms of a Child Arrangements Order, which governs where your child lives and spends time, we can help you petition the court.

If you don't have a Child Arrangements Order, your next step would be to seek one via court, so access to your child can be formally agreed. Again, we can help you with this.

If your former partner has taken your child from your care without your consent, perhaps to an unknown location, but has not left the country then we can help you make the necessary emergency applications to the court to ensure your child is returned as quickly as possible.

If your child has been relocated to Scotland or Northern Ireland, then different legal systems are in place there, and those legal systems would typically deal with the case. For more advice on this, or any aspect of child abduction or family law, speak to a member of our experienced team.

We have a wide network of offices around England and are dedicated to delivering a personal service that is tailored to your needs, no matter where you are located.

For support and guidance, call on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.


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