Parental Abduction: The View From Across the Pond

Like everyone else, Americans tend to see parental abduction from the American’s point of view. But parental abduction goes on everywhere.

As in the US, parental abduction is occurring more and more frequently in the UK. A ninety-three percent increase since 1995. A twenty-two percent increase in the first half of 2007 over the first half of 2006.

Cheap travel. Global economies and workforces. International “love connections”. Immigrant labor / workers.

Interestingly, the highest rate of abduction and return is reportedly between the UK country of Ireland and the US, which have their own pact together.

The UK is reputedly good about returning children to their place of habitual residence – with some noteworthy exceptions.

One interesting difference from the US experience is the increasing frequency with which UK couples both opt to relocate to other countries while the family is intact. But after the couple breaks up, one of them often wishes to return home – with their children.

(US abductions are more likely to unfold when the non-American parent takes the children on vacation to visit non-American relatives.)

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to which both the US and the UK are parties, specifies a procedure for seeking return of children to their place of habitual residence.

But forty percent of the parental abduction cases in the UK involve countries that are not parties to the Hague Convention. But some of those nations are parties to private pacts with the UK.

The situation is reportedly generally improving in the UK, but Germany reputedly remains a country that doesn’t play by international rules. Left-behind parents in the UK band together in an organization called Parents and Children Together or PACT, which fights abduction and aids law enforcement.

Read more in this UK Times article: After the break-up, the kidnap – The number of children abducted by a parent when couples of different nationalities divorce is rising.