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Advice for Parents - Your Child has been taken to a Non-Convention Country

You should contact the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (tel:020 7008 1500). They will advise you what to do.

If you cannot reach an agreement with the person who has taken your child, beginning legal proceedings in the courts of the country concerned may be your only option.

It is important to establish as soon as possible what your parental rights are under the local law and what the local child care and control practices are. You should therefore consider obtaining legal advice about the laws and practice of the country concerned.

The Consular Division of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office can help by providing a list of local lawyers who correspond in English. Neither the Consular Division nor British consular officers abroad can give legal advice or act as your legal representative.

You may be able to get legal aid from the country to which your child has been taken. You should discuss this with your lawyer.

No court will pass down judgments that are contrary to their own law. They might be unable or unwilling to oppose family, religious or cultural traditions which are customary or obligatory in their country.

In some countries, the law may not give equal parental or individual rights to women and men. This will usually influence the outcome of a child custody case, especially when one parent is from a different social, cultural or religious background and intends, if granted custody, to remove a child from those traditions.

Dual Nationality

In many instances abducted children will also have the nationality of the country to which they have been taken, in addition to their British nationality. In such cases, international law restricts the scope for formal action by consular officers. They will always do everything possible to help informally.