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With the increase in international travel, for business and leisure, there has been a rise in the number of couples forming relationships with an international dimension. Unfortunately, where the relationship subsequently breaks down, this can then trigger one or the other party, to want to return ‘home’ to their original family support network.

Figures released by the Foreign and Common Wealth Office (FCO) and Reunite, show that almost two children are abducted abroad each day, with parental child abduction and child custody cases has more than doubled over the past decade.

In 2003/2004 the FCO records that it was engaged in dealing with 272 new parental child abduction and international child custody cases, with the figure having risen to 580 in 2012/2013. Reunite reports that it assisted with 447 new cases, involving a total of 616 children in 2013, this being the second-highest figure ever recorded.

Alison Shalaby, the Chief Executive of Reunite, states as quoted in the Family Law week 2014, “Parental child abduction is not faith or country-specific – we see cases involving a range of countries from France and Poland to Thailand, Pakistan and Australia.  The holidays can be a particularly stressful time for families, especially if the relationship between parents has broken down.  However, there is help available if you think that your partner may be considering abducting your children.  Last year we helped to prevent 412 cases involving 586 children which demonstrates something can be done to prevent it from happening to you.”

The 1996 Hague Convention came into force in the UK in November 2012.  The aim of the 1996 Hague Convention is to ‘improve the protection of children in international situations’ and avoid protracted disputes between different legal systems by engaging international co-operation between the Contracting States.

The FCO has launched an awareness campaign to try to dissuade potential parental abductors from abducting children abroad and also to alert the other parent to look for warning signals.