Taking children abroad - a legal minefield

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Ease of travel and a shrinking world means taking a child abroad is now simpler than ever, so what do you need to be aware of as a parent or guardian to avoid the risk of facing abduction charges?

Sue Hodgson of Lanyon Bowdler

Family break-ups happen and while abduction by a parent is rare, there are rules to follow before taking a child out of the country.

Sue Hodgson, a family law solicitor with Lanyon Bowdler, said: “When parents are going through a difficult break up, it is easy for trust to break down. They can lose the insight to discuss plans even if they do not require consent.

“A parent should ask themselves how they would feel if their child were taken abroad, even for a holiday, without being given details. If parents share information it can reduce the chances of misguided but time-consuming and expensive proceedings.

“Children cope with lots of challenges, provided adults in their lives are consistent and constant, but often one parent will remove the child without first discussing it which can lead to charges of child abduction.

“A child’s parent, guardian or someone with a child arrangements order in respect of that child, could be breaking the law if they take or send a child outside the UK without appropriate consent.

“Problems can also arise where one parent wishes to relocate to another area of the UK, while another difficulty can occur if one parent wishes to permanently remove the child from England and Wales to live abroad.

“The court will always have the best interest of the child at the heart of any decision but, again, it is always advisable to discuss arrangements and try to reach an agreement.”

For legal advice, contact the family law solicitors at Lanyon Bowdler.

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