Incidents of international parental child abduction are expected to peak this month according to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office's (FCO) Child Abduction Section.
In many cases, parents pretend they are going on holiday with their child to their country of origin and then fail to return. Parents often do not to realise that they have committed a child abduction offence, according to research recently commissioned by the FCO. The research showed that a third of people didn't know that if you take your child abroad without the permission of the other parent, this may be considered abduction under UK law.
The FCO's Child Abduction Section handled over 200 new cases between April 2009 - March 2010. Many of these involved abductions to countries that have not ratified the 1980 Hague Convention where parents can face great difficulties getting their children returned. There was a 39% increase in cases of British children being abducted to non-Hague countries, particularly Pakistan, India, Thailand, Nigeria and Ghana.
Jeremy Browne, Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister for Consular Policy, said: "International parental child abduction, whether intentional or not, can cause huge distress to families.
"Cases of parental child abduction increase in the summer holiday period. We also see cases where British nationals simply return to the UK with their child after their relationship breaks down whilst living abroad - this is still likely to be considered abduction. A parent will normally require the consent of the other parent and possibly permission from the courts of the country concerned. It is important that a parent obtains legal advice before taking any action."