Child Abduction Solicitors

They are simply excellent in their dynamic approach to family litigation, balancing tenaciousness with the sensitivity required in family law

The Legal 500, 2023

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 0370 1500 100 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

I live in Scotland, can Irwin Mitchell help me?

Our expert family law team works with several trusted partners to help our clients with family law issues in Scotland.

We’ll be your point of contact and manage the entire process for you throughout. You’ll get frequent progress updates, and we’ll break down any legal jargon into plain English so you’re always in the loop.

To find out more about how we can help, give us a call on 0370 1500 100 or contact us online.


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Ros Bever, family lawyer
Ros Bever National Head of Family Law Meet the team

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More Information - Child Abduction Solicitors

Ros Bever quote

"Ros Bever is an excellent lawyer who is passionate about getting things right."

Chambers & Partners, 2019

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 0370 1500 100, or contact us online and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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 0370 1500 100 or contact us online and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

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 0370 1500 100 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Awards & Accreditations

We're always proud to be recognised for the work we do for our clients and have been named as a leading firm in the latest legal guides - which provide information and recommendations about lawyers and law firms in the UK.

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A Quality Service
The team's breadth of family knowledge and expertise is matched by the resources to deliver a quality service in a timely manner"
A High Level Of Service
They consistently endeavour to offer a high level of service to their clients"

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Kids in the middle

Proud to support Kids in the Middle

Kids in the Middle is a charity which aims to help children whose parents are going through, or have gone through a divorce.

As a lead partner of the charity, we’re making sure that the views of children are heard when decisions are being made which concern their welfare.

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