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Before a parent can remove a child from the UK, they must obtain the written consent of the other parent (or the child's legal guardian) or obtain the permission of the court. One of the most important reasons to seek legal advice before removing a child is you may be committing a criminal offence if you do so. Removing persons under the age of 16 from the UK can be regarded as child abduction and may see you prosecuted. This covers not only permanent relocation, but also temporary trips such as holidays and visits to family abroad.

International child abduction

If a child is removed to another country and/or retained there by one parent without the consent of the other parent (or any other party with custody rights) then this is regarded as international child abduction. The offence is committed when a child under the age of 16 is removed from the UK without consent and there is a court order in place regarding custody of that child. However, even if no such order exists, the parent or guardian remaining in the UK can raise a court action to have the child returned (or to seek rights of access to the child), under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction to seek return of the child or secure access rights.

In Scots law, the child's welfare is of paramount concern. The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 states that no person shall be entitled to remove a child habitually resident in Scotland from, or to retain any such child out with, the United Kingdom without the consent of both parents, or the consent of the person with parental responsibility for the child.

Fiona Rasmusen
Partner, Head of Family Law
Do you need help? I specialise in family law, divorce, separation, child contact and residence, prenuptial agreements and separation agreements.
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