Today, 25th May, is International Missing Children’s Day.

Thousands of children around the world go missing each year. More children are abducted by a parent or family member than by a stranger. As a specialist family law team we have experience in child abduction cases where one parent (or family member) takes a child abroad without the consent of the other.

Statistics show that 213 children were abducted by a parent and taken overseas last year (09 / 10), according to the BBC. How easy it is to ensure the child is returned will generally depend upon the country to which the child has been taken.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was entered into by a number of countries (“contracting states”) in 1980. The Convention is designed to allow for the expeditious return of a child to the contracting state from where he or she was taken. Of course, where a country is not a contracting state, then difficulties may arise. For example, Pakistan, India and Nigeria are not contracting states and so court proceedings often have to be initiated in those countries if informal protocol agreements fail to secure the return in an attempt to have a child returned to the UK. This can be a lengthy, expensive process with poor prospects of success, depending upon the circumstances.

Some preventative steps can be taken where it is suspected that one parent may attempt abduction and prevention can be better than cure

In Scotland, we can go to court and ask for an “interdict”, a court order which should prevent your child from being removed from your care. Courts can also grant orders obliging any person to surrender a child’s passport.