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Internation Parental Child Abduction & Access

When a child is taken to another country or is retained there by a parent without the consent of the other parent or another party with rights of custody, this is regarded as international child abduction. Under the Child Abduction Act 1984, it is a criminal offence in Scotland for a person connected with a child under 16 to take or send the child out of the United Kingdom without consent if there is a court order in place dealing with custody of the child or if there is an order prohibiting the removal of the child from the UK. However, even if there is no such order in place, the left behind parent or other person with rights of custody can use civil law procedures under the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to seek return of the child or secure access rights. If the Country to which the child has been abducted is not a party to the Hague Convention, advice should be sought from the Foreign and commonwealth Office or Reunite (see "Contacts and Links").

Triple Wrapper for Abduction

International Abduction

The UK is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of parental abduction across international boundaries or the loss of contact with a left-behind parent. The Convention provides a procedure for bringing about the prompt return of a child wrongfully removed to or retained in another country which is a party to the Convention, or for securing access rights. Within the European Union, the Convention is supplemented by Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 (commonly referred to as Brussels II A or Brussels II bis). The Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 (as amended) gives effect to the Convention and Regulation in Scots Law.

UK Abduction

Neither the 1980 Hague Convention nor the EU Regulation apply when a child has been abducted to or from another part of the United Kingdom. In such cases domestic legislation applies. The Family Law Act 1986 allows orders made in one part of the UK to be recognised and enforced in another part. The 1986 Act also makes provision on which court has jurisdiction. The person wishing to have an order enforced should apply to the court which made the order, who should be able to offer advice on registering the order in a court in the part of the UK where the child is. If you do not have a court order, you should seek advice from a solicitor.

Contacts & Links

  • Central Authority for Scotland
  • The Law Society for Scotland
  • Scottish Courts Service
  • Citizen's Advice Bureau
  • Reunite
  • Children and Families Across Borders
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Central Authority for England & Wales
  • Central Authority for Northern Ireland
  • Identity and Passport Service
  • National Missing Persons Helpline
  • Childline
  • The Scottish Child Law Centre
  • Hague Conference on Private International Law