Forum Shah advises what swift steps should be taken if a child has been retained in another country after the summer holidays

Forum Shah advises what swift steps should be taken if a child has been retained in another country after the summer holidays

Summer has been and gone in a flash. Minds are now turning to the back to school rush and preparing children for this. Sadly, there are cases when a summer holiday has not gone as planned and a child has been retained in a country, away from their home state. This is particularly so if there are pre existing links with the country involved.

This can be an extremely stressful time for parents as it can seem like a hopeless situation, waiting and watching what might happen next. It is important that swift action is taken and we set out below 5 steps that should be taken at the earliest opportunity:

(1)          Specialist legal advice should be sought urgently: It is important that legal advice is taken quickly so that a removal can be prevented (if it has not happened yet) or proceedings can commence urgently to seek the child’s return to their home state. It is also important to contact lawyers who specialise in this work as it is a complex area of the law and one wrong move could make the situation worse. We, at Dawson Cornwell, are recognised globally for our international child abduction work and have a dedicated team of lawyers who are recognised as specialists in this area. Many of our specialists also speak another language. We also have an emergency line for situations that are extremely urgent so that any necessary steps can be taken outside of business hours. Legal aid is available for this area of law and we can quickly ascertain whether you would be eligible for this. 

(2)          Contact the police: If you are concerned about your child’s safety and wellbeing or consider that a removal is imminent, contact the police and request that a ‘port alert’ is put in place. This may be able to stop the child being taken out of the country.

(3)          Gather important information: It is very useful to have important information regarding the child, such as: passport number, your child’s birth certificate, details of any existing court orders and any information of where you think your child might be, to hand. 

(4)          Contact Reunite’s advice line: Reunite is a charity, specialising in international child abduction. Reunite offers a parental advice line in which parents can speak to an advisor about the situation they are going through and seek practical support. More information about Reunite can be found here:

(5)          Keep talking: It is important to keep your ear to the ground and talk to the parent who has removed or retained your child. It will be easier to start proceedings if you are aware as to where the child physically is and what the parental intention is.

We understand this situation would be devastating but it is important to keep calm and consider all of the options available. We at Dawson Cornwell would be happy to assist you with the process. We have many decades of experience in preventing the removal of children within England and Wales as well as internationally. This is alongside seeking the return of children who have already been removed or retained abroad. If you have an international children law issue that you need assistance with then please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0)20 7242 2556 or 

Forum Shah

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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