Child Abduction 

We are experienced in dealing with child abduction cases where a child has been unlawfully removed from the jurisdiction of England & Wales or is unlawfully brought and retained here.

Expert family law advice is needed in this area and it can be vital to act quickly.


If a person fears that a child is to be taken from this country then the following urgent steps may need to be considered, by way of an example only:

    • a prohibited steps order to prevent the removal of the child
    • a Child Arrangements Order
    • the child to be made a ward of court
    • a port alert
    • contact with the police
    • a declaration of habitual residence
    • seizure of any relevant passports and travel documents

What do I do if my child has been abducted?

In such a case much will depend on the relevant countries involved and whether European Union (EU) rules apply and/or 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction applies.

This can involve:

    • the involvement of the Tipstaff in England & Wales to seek and locate the child
    • disclosure of any relevant information and records from third parties e.g. family members, government agencies, banks etc
    • working with overseas lawyers and courts
    • seeking an order from the court for the child’s return

Can abduction be defended?

Certain defences are available but can be narrowly interpreted and relate to:

    • whether or not there is a dispute about where the child is from
    • to order the return of the child would create an intolerable situation
    • the child’s objections to a return

Our expertise

We are experts in child abduction cases. James Maguire is a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and is a member of the Law Society’s child abduction panel. He is also on the panel for a number of embassies (including the US Embassy and Canadian High Commission) and British Consulates overseas.

We are family lawyers in England and Wales who concentrate on international divorce and family law issues. We are not lawyers in other jurisdictions and we work with independent lawyers around the world to resolve international family law cases.

For advice on parental child abduction or an informal chat please contact Maguire Family Law by telephone +44 (0) 1625 529456 or by email at