Surge in number of children abducted by their parents
The number of children abducted from the UK by their parents has doubled in the last 10 years, according to official figures from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
In 2003-04, the FCO dealt with 272 parental child abduction and international custody cases. This figure had risen to 580 in 2012-13.
That is the second highest figure ever recorded and is a cause of considerable concern for the FCO.
Most abducted children are taken to the US, Ireland or Poland. These countries are covered by the 1980 Hague Convention, which is a legal system in which countries work together to return children who have been abducted and crossed borders.
However, many children are taken to countries such as Pakistan, India and Thailand which are not covered by the Hague Convention.
It is far more complicated to return a child from a country that hasn’t signed the Hague Convention. While there isn’t a typical ‘abducting parent’, about 70% are mothers and abductions are more likely when the family has roots in more than one country.
Mark Simmonds, the Minister for Consular Affairs said: “Parental child abduction has a devastating emotional impact on the child, as well as the taking parent and the parent left behind. It can do lasting damage to a child’s relationship with both parents and their happiness.”
Parental disputes over children can be traumatic, especially when they involve cross border abductions. Thankfully, the law can help.
The Hague Convention provides a valuable framework for resolving disputes, but even in countries where it is not available there are still measures that can be taken to have an abducted child returned to the parent with custody rights.
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