I'm worried the other parent will take my child away

If you’re worried that your child might be taken away by the other parent without your permission, there are some practical measures you can take.

In an emergency, if you think your child will be abducted abroad very soon, call the police on 101 who may notify ports and airports about the abduction risk (a port alert).

Legal action

Get the help of a specialist lawyer who can help you apply for the right orders in the right way. You may be able to get legal aid for this.

You can take legal action by applying for a court order:

  • a prohibited steps order to stop the other parent taking the child out of the country or relocating within the UK
  • a child arrangements order to say that the child should be living with you permanently
  • a specific issue order that determines whether a child can relocate, leave the country or should hand over their passport

Tipstaff orders

If you can show that your child is likely to be abducted abroad in the next 48 hours, you can apply for emergency orders from the High Court.

These are called ‘tipstaff orders’ because they are carried out by a tipstaff – a special type of enforcement officer:

  • a passport order to remove passports and travel documents from named individuals
  • a location order to get information on the whereabouts of your child
  • a collection order to collect your child from a known location when another order has been broken

The High Court can also issue a port alert order to tell the police to notify ports and airports about the abduction risk.

Other measures

Contact HM Passport Office on 0300 222 0000 to stop your child from getting a passport to travel. Do not do this if they have already left the country, as it might make it hard for them to get back.

Call Reunite International on 0116 2556 234 for advice, information and support. They have detailed guides about how to prevent child abduction, available for download.

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