Break-ups causing more mothers to abduct their children

Alarming figures show that the number of children being abducted when their parents separate has increased by 47% in a year.

The report, released by the charity, reunite International Child Abduction Centre, shows that it is the mother who abducts the child in 70% of cases.

The Acting Director of reunite, Alison Shalaby, said: “It is concerning that we have seen such a large increase in the number of children abducted, especially as we know this is just the tip of the iceberg – many cases go unreported either to ourselves or government departments.

“There are many reasons why a parent may abduct their child. For some it may be a deliberate act to deny the other parent contact, for others there may be sociological or economic factors, or in some instances a parent may abduct their child out of fear for the child´s safety.

“Whatever the reason, parental child abduction causes real harm to children who potentially suffer great emotional trauma by suddenly being ripped away from all they know and being denied contact with their left-behind parent and extended family.”

Couples should use a mediator

The charity says it handled 512 new abduction cases in 2011. Of these, 479 children were abducted out of the UK, and 189 were abducted into the UK. There were also 16 children who were abducted between UK jurisdictions and 56 children who were abducted between non-UK jurisdictions.

Abductions are traumatic for all concerned but thankfully the vast majority of parents are able to come to amicable arrangements for their children. When there are difficulties, mediation with the help of a solicitor can usually result in an agreement that is fair to everyone involved, particularly the child.

Sometimes, simply stating the legal position is enough to make parents accept the reality of their situation so they can come to a satisfactory arrangement. If disputes still remain unresolved, court action may be necessary.

A parent whose ex-partner has abducted their child can take legal action to have the child returned. If the couple cannot agree the courts will decide the level of access each partner has to their children.