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My ex is accusing me of abducting our children

If your ex has accused you of abducting your children to another country from England and Wales, there is a possibility that you could be prosecuted under the Child Abduction Act 1985. This is because it is a criminal offence to take any child who is under the age of 16 out of this jurisdiction without the consent of all people with parental responsibility or the permission of the court. This is a serious allegation and, if not dealt with promptly, you could experience severe penal repercussions.

Your ex may also bring civil proceedings against you for child abduction under the Hague Convention 1980, or under the Inherent Jurisdiction of the High Court in the alternative. There are a number of limited defences to international parental child abduction. However, if you have taken your children overseas for an extended period or you have decided to move abroad with them permanently without your ex’s consent you must take immediate steps to obtain consent from your ex or permission from the court for leave to remove your children from the jurisdiction. If you do not do so, you may be faced with a child abduction application, and if successful you will be required to immediately return the children to England and Wales.

Vardags’ family lawyers and in-house criminal defence experts are perfectly placed to advise you on any potential child abduction charge.

We offer a free consultation to qualifying individuals. Please call our confidential enquiry line on 020 7404 9390 or email us. Lines are staffed 24 hours.

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If you are named as the person that your children live with under a child arrangements order you may take your children abroad for up to 28 days without requiring permission from your ex or the court. Even if there is no child arrangement order in place and you have taken your children away on a short break, do not panic. The prompt return of your children to the jurisdiction should resolve matters.

However, if you have taken your children on an extended holiday or you have taken them abroad permanently there is a real possibility that both civil and criminal proceedings could be brought against you. In these circumstances, you should immediately seek your ex’s consent to the move and, failing that, the permission of the court. Our team of international family and criminal lawyers can provide you with practical advice that will help resolve matters as quickly and smoothly as possible.

If you have moved abroad with your children without your ex’s consent, you could be at risk of being accused of child abduction, which is both a criminal and civil offence. There are serious criminal proceedings that could involve you being extradited to be brought before the criminal court of England and Wales.

However, the seriousness of these consequences can be mitigated if you take swift action to contact your ex and resolve the situation. Whatever your reasons for taking your child abroad, the faster you act the less likely the situation will result in onerous orders against you. In some limited circumstances, it may even be possible to apply for retrospective leave to remove from the court.

At Vardags, we have an experienced team of family and criminal lawyers who will be able to advise you on the best course of action. Although the consequences of child abduction can be very serious, we have the expertise to be able to resolve the situation rapidly and discreetly, so there are no long-term consequences for yourself and your family.

The British High Court is obliged to return any children who are suspected of having been abducted. Child abduction is taken very seriously and can lead to criminal penalties as well as civil proceedings. If you are accused of abducting your children, it is vital that you seek specialist legal advice urgently.

As an international family law firm, Vardags are well placed to advise you on the ramifications of international law and the kinds of jurisdictional issues that may affect your case. In particular, under English law, your children’s habitual residence will not necessarily follow yours. It will be determined by what roots they have in a country and where their centre of interest is considered to be. Whatever your circumstances, if you have been accused of child abduction it is necessary to seek immediate legal advice and our team of experienced lawyers are on hand to give you any expert advice and support you require.


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