Call us: Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm, Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm
Call local rate 0330 056 3171
Mon - Fri 8:30am - 7pm | Sat - Sun 9am - 5pm

Child abductions by parents rise by 88% in 10 years

Parental child abductions have risen by 88 per cent in less than a decade, according to new government findings.

Data from the Foreign Office (FCO) shows that the number of children abducted and taken abroad illegally by an estranged parent has increased significantly in under a decade.

A parent has no legal right to take their child from his or her country of residence without permission from the other parent or other people with parental responsibility. However, FCO research suggests that 24 per cent of Britons are unaware that doing so constitutes a crime.

The FCO has launched a new campaign to educate people on this matter. Daisy Organ, the Head of the FCO’s child abduction section, said:

“We hope that this campaign will help inform and educate the UK public and encourage parents thinking of abducting their child to think twice before they cause significant distress to themselves and their family.”

Alison Shalaby, chief executive of charity Reunite, said parental child abduction was a more widespread problem than many people believe:

“It is important to remember that parental child abduction is not faith or country specific  Seventy-one per cent of the UK public thought that parents most commonly abduct their children to the Middle East, India and Pakistan but it can happen to anyone, from any background.”

The Hague Convention on child abduction is an international agreement between certain countries that aims to ensure the return of children who are illegally taken abroad by a parent. However, between 2001 and 2011 there was a 206 per cent increase in the number of children taken to a country which has not signed the Convention. In such countries it can be much more difficult to obtain the return of a child.

According to the Foreign Office 74 per cent of people believe fathers are more likely to abduct their child. However, research from Reunite suggests mothers have been the abducting parent in 70 per cent of cases.
If your child has been taken abroad without your consent, contact the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit for help. Reunite also produces a series of child abduction prevention guides specific to certain countries.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

Contact us

As the UK's largest family law firm we understand that every case is personal.


  1. Name Witheld says:

    Dear Marilyn,
    Thank you for your posts. I recently had been through a Hague Convention case where my wife had lied through her teeth at the London high court yet got the return order she wanted. After a return is made is there any way to go back to the High Court to show further evidence? Appeal failed.
    Thank a lot for your help.

    • Marilyn Stowe says:

      Thanks very much for writing to me. This must be very difficult for you. I suspect the only option you have is to make an application in the court of the other country. I also imagine your English lawyers will have tried to make arrangements for you to see your child?

  2. Ale says:

    There is a famous Italian case about the four Florentine children, where the mother, Marianne Grin, lost custody for being psychologically unstable but the judge and psychologist did not mandate supervised visitation because it was the mother. She then violated the decree and kidnapped the children to Russia where they do not follow the Hague Convention! Who can protect the children now? How do we get more serious when it’s the mother to lose custody?

  3. Friend says:

    This is for Marilyn to answer, I know, but if I might just say, because Jon doesn’t seem to be aware of it, that lying is all part of the game, and I’m afraid that where perjury helps uphold the status quo, it is most welcome.

  4. Name Witheld says:

    Thank you Marylin. The children are with me thank god but I will lose my job and the kids will lose their place at their school if I don’t return back home. She hasn’t even cared to see them or even ask about them for three years.
    Dear Friend, thank you for your input. I am not the kind of man to lie and find her despicable to lie in order to simply get revenge. If perjury is status quo then where is justice? I have proof, there must be someone who would listen?!
    Thanks again

Leave a comment

Help & advice categories


Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for advice on divorce and relationships from our lawyers, divorce coaches and relationship experts.

What type of information are you looking for?

Privacy Policy