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This forum offers parents the opportunity to voice their own experiences of international parental child abduction, and related issues, and to share useful information with others in a similar situation.

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Definition of Child Abduction

by Michelle Townsend / Posted 31/01/2010 / Updated 28/12/2017

I am looking in on this website after going through 3.5 years of hell because of the hague convention. My ex husband and I are british nationals and we have a daughter, also a british national. After living in spain and subsequently separating for a second time, my husband told me ´go back to the Uk - I have helped you enough financially´ - when I returned on the advice of a spanish lawyer - then my husband invoked the hague and a 3 year law suit ensued. I was returned twice. The second time I had papers from a judge in spain saying I could bring my daughter back! The high court of london rejected this order. My daughter and I had no money, no home and only survived because of the generosity of ex-pats and sometimes finding small jobs that paid me a small fee. But without child care, not being fluent, and having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome the fight of the hague was literally blowing my mind. When I was returned for the second time I had only just come out of the spanish hospital after having 3 tumours removed from my cervix and a conal biopsy. That was August 2005. When I returned in october 2005 my husband invoked the hague for a second time - I had papers! I was in a UK refuge and I just wasnt well enough to travel to London. My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was very bad and I was still getting over the operation. The high court said that we had to go back and get more papers. that they didnt accept the judges wording of our release.

My question is ´Is the definition of child abduction correct´? If a mother and child are known to the police, are claiming income support and have a fixed address - then how is this child abduction? Especially when the father had said repeatedly go back to the Uk and had reduced the maintenance to such a low level that I couldnt afford the rent even on a studio flat in spain?

Surely child abduction is where a child is taken without warning and no-one knows of their well being or where they are living?

I cannot believe that these traumas are still being endured by women. Men use the hague to get back at their ex wives. They want to hurt the wife at any cost and threatening to take away children of the imprison them gives these callous men exactly what they want.

Why are there not a chain of internation womens refuges set up in all the states signed up to the hague. Why isnt the money put into keeping the women and children safe on their return instead of paying mens legal costs to act as perpetrators of domestic violence.

If men wanted the wives and children to stay then why did they abuse them in the first instance. Emotional abuse and the loss of freedom all constitute domestic violence.

In this day and age I cannot believe that a UK government allows mothers and children to suffer so.

My ex-husband has never visited his daughter from spain since the final papers were obtained in May 2006 from a spanish judge.

Once his power to abuse was taken away - he just never visited.

My daughter is 11 now, and because I have been open with her and said that she can see him at any time - she is fairly well adjusted. She says she hates her father though and is angry that he has never written back to her - even though she has written to him.

Where is the support to help women and children once they have been returned?

Why is nothing still not being done about it?

The hague is a disgrace and I doubt that if you go beneath the politics it is actually having much success.

If a man wants to take achild and hide - then he will do it1 that is child abduction.

Thank you for listening.



From Erika / Posted: 01/04/2010
I really do sympathise with everything you have been through, in my case the existence of the Hague Convention has been used as a tool by my ex partner in order to abuse and bully, from a distance. Luckily he hasn´t put his words into action. We have been in the UK for 7 months now, he has phoned nearly every day but made no attempt to come and visit his son. I have spent quite some time familiarising myself with the ins and outs of the Hague Convention and the whole process seems to leave a lot to be desired. It needs some serious rethinking by those who are more informed and understanding of the situations that real people sometimes find themselves in.
From Jay / Posted: 01/04/2010
Hi Michelle.

I sympathise with your story and completely understand what you and your daughter have been through over the past few years. My daughter was abducted by her father in the early 90´s and taken to the middle east. She was abducted in the true sense of the word and as you described. Taken without any warning!. It took me 2 years to get her back! I fought until I had no strength left to fight. It was then I was sent an angel and through his help and me my daughter and I were reunited. I had to snatch her. I homed in on your comments with regards to no help "after" the event and all the trauma that you and your daughter went through. I have written a book that is soon to be published and with the proceeds I intend to set up a facility that will provide support onsite and links to professionals if not available inhouse. It will be the first of it´s kind in the UK!. As a mother who has lived every second of what so many parents are going through now i felt compelled to write my book and take the necassary steps to try my best at getting such a facility in place. Do take care and who knows maybe this time next year you and your daughter will visit one of my proposed support groups :o). Hope being ther keyword....
From Phil / Posted: 06/04/2010
Without doubt you have suffered.
However whilst I am able to sympathise somewhat,we are only hearing your side of the story.
I hvae experienced my daughter been taken from my by her mother whereby the mother has then proceeded to manipulate and brainwash my child against me.
But with much patience and understanding on my part as well as the intervention of Spanish social services I am seeing my daughter every month (at the moment)after a period of not seeing her for more than two years (due to her mother).
I can not comment on your ex ,but there is nothing to be happy about in knowing that your daughter does not want to see her father;unless of course there is more to this situation than you have mentioned?
From CAS / Posted: 01/09/2010
My ex husband and I are also British nationals and we have a daughter, also a British national she was born in Scotland. We lived in Spain for 18 months before separating when my daughter was 6. I did have a successful business but my Husband contacted most of my clients to tell them that I had ‘stolen’ the company money and ‘run away’ – completely untrue so the business folded and I was unable to support myself financially in Spain any longer

I returned to the UK with my daughter but was forced to return her to Spain after a few weeks.

I did have contact with my daughter for some of the time initially but my husband in the end moved house and changed all his contact numbers. I managed to talk to her at school but in the end my husband put a stop to that (private school and he was paying the bills)

I had no contact with my daughter for 5 months and had not actually seen her for 8 months – My ex worked overseas 4 -5 weeks at a time and my daughter was left with his new girlfriend. I went to Spain to try and find her but they simply disappeared on holiday until I had to return home as I had run out of money.

I got myself a job in the UK and hired a lawyer – My first court hearing took place and the decision was made by the Spanish judge that my daughter should be returned to me in the UK. 6 weeks later I was finally told that I could go and collect her from Spain. This was the first time I had seen her in almost a year.

She ran straight to me and we drove to the airport – as my ex husband had ‘lost’ her passport we managed to get on a flight with her birth certificate.

The final hearing was several months later – during the wait my daughter visited him in Spain – this was part of the court order, what was not part of the order was the telephone contact with her father which I allowed – I bought her her own mobile and also the extended stay in Spain over the summer which again I allowed at my husbands request.

The result of the hearing was that the Judge awarded me a divorce and permanent custody of my daughter with visitation rights for my ex husband. I have told him that I will be flexible to allow longer visits with him during the summer holidays than the judge ordered.

I want my daughter to have a relationship with her father – however his behaviour is disgraceful. He kept her away from me with no contact for the best part of a year whilst he left her with his girlfriend to go to work. It broke my heart – I didn’t even get to speak to her on her birthday.

In return I have allowed telephone contact – something the court did not ask me to do – I also allowed a 5 week visit in Spain in the summer – the court had only ordered she have to go for 3 weeks.

My ex husband refused to give me any notice of when he would collect her at Easter and didn’t give me the details until the day before.

He has now appealed and we have to go through this again......

This is not about what is best for my daughter but more about continuing to have control.. It is so sad when people use children as weapons
From shannyn / Posted: 08/12/2010
as i see why you would be angry this site isnt for men who want to piss off there ex wifes/girlfriends and the men who do that are wrong. This site is set up for people such as my partner whose daughter is being taken away from him because her mother, stops access and tells her daughter he doesnt want to see her.and then uses him as baby sitter when she has noone else to palm her off on. his ex took her to australia to stay with her boyfriends family who he has not been incontact with long and only ever been there twiceso he doent even know much about them and then LEFT HER with someone she didnt know and his daughter had only just met while she went out to get PISSED!
this is why the site is here, for the genuine fathers, and to stop people from up rooting there children to live some where and stay over seas with people they dont even know mothers like that should not have children.
if your ex has just done it to piss you off thats bad but dont judge everyoneby your ex´s standards
From Paul / Posted: 05/05/2011
Please remember this works both ways. I am currently wihtout my 3 gorgeous children as my wife has taken them back to Sweden without consent and is feeding the Swedish authorities a pack of lies. Both men AND women can be manipulative and deceitful.....
From Carrie Ward / Posted: 07/05/2011
Mostly men abuse the h/c convention to get the ex nack under their control. The h/c should be re-thinked and changed to stop this happening to innocent mothers and their innocent children. It is happening all the time and no one is doing anything about it as no one can get incontact with other people that is going/went through it. It is time for change it.
From St Michael / Posted: 08/05/2011
The definition of parental child abduction is to wrongfully retain a child in a foreign country, away from the other parent, without her/his consent.

Parental Kidnapping is A New Form of Child Abuse. Child stealing is child abuse.

Hague is the best hope for left behind parents.
The whole purpose of Hague is to dissolve international borders in cases of international parental child abduction. This is to facilitate returning the child back, and also so that one can deal with the local laws all your marriage/personal problems where both spouses have habitually resided.

Also, country of births and citizenship should not be confused, because, that is the sole purpose of Hague to diminish those barriers which separate people´s identities. (or remove mis-identifications about where we belong.)

If any spouse has a marriage problem with their partners, it does not give them the right to take away the kids and flee to another country or their home country. They must deal with the local laws where you are habitually resident with your spouse. Apply for custody or divorce, or see a marriage Councillor, apply for a relocation order, and then move out respectfully out of the country.

Plz do not just take the kids, pack up and flee out of the country. It is not only immoral, unethical but also a criminal offense under law to wrongfully retain the kids in another country away from a parent.

Every child has a God given right to have 2 parents. No one parent should consider self-authorizing themselves to be taking away this right from the other parent.
From Rebecca / Posted: 17/05/2011
Sometimes it is not easy to sort out the differences in the countries you have moved to though, whether it be a different law to what you are used to, the language barrier, or the costs involved and visa status. Group all of that with not having a support network and it is very easy to decide to flee the situation with your children than to flee without them. In my case I was trapped in Australia on a temporary visa which was valid for 4 years. I moved there to be the ´stay at home mum´ looking after a toddler so that my partner at the time could pursue his career. He agreed to be the breadwinner and provide the financial support and he had the money transferred from the equity of our UK house into his bank account (mistake number one ladies, make sure you have some money in your own name). When the problems started and we separated, he moved out the rented home into his girlfriends house, leaving me with no money, refused to give me access to jointly owned money, and therefore, facing eviction from the rented house because I couldn´t pay. As I was on a temporary visa I was not entitled in anyway to any Australian benefits or legal aid, if I tried to find a job then the cost of full time childcare for my son would outweigh the salary (temporary visa meant I got no help towards childcare), and I couldn´t afford the legal fees quoted by solicitors to take this through the courts. I had no friends or family to turn to, an ex partner who was deliberately making things extra hard for me - so I fled and returned to the UK with our son. What else was I to do? I know the answer my ex wanted - he put pressure on to try and force me to leave because he knew I couldn´t sustain any lifestyle for myself, but he´d hoped I´d leave on my own and he would have full custody. OK, I got sent back under the HC some 5 months later and things got harder and extremely difficult at times before I was finally allowed to return to the UK legally two years later. Through all of this I was eternally grateful that although I was going through hell, I was going through it in an English speaking country whose laws are derived from British law, so I understood what was going on. Heaven knows how hard this ordeal is for women in a foreign country who have to rely on interpreters (which adds lengthy delays and huge costs to the legal procedure) and a legal system that is unfamiliar, or in some countries (United Arab Emirates for instance) totally antiquated. There is no easy answer because this is a complex matter. Since the law was introduced in 1980 more and more people are in mixed international relationships than back then, and the subject of parental child abduction/moving abroad with children/the definition of ´habitual residence´ is not on the school curriculum, so this ´problem´ we find ourselves in when relationships go wrong when two countries are involved is not very well known. Perhaps it should be on the school curriculum and talked about with sex education? Over the past 6 years I´ve been on this forum I have taken the matter up with the Australian Immigration Dept and asked that they devise a leaflet (even offered to help create one!) to send out with visa applications to warn parents in future about this HC law, but they didn´t want to know. I´ve contacted a company who do seminars about migration to Australia/NZ/America and offered to do a talk about this subject - just so that I can educate parents about this law, but I was told in not very polite terms that I would not be welcome as what I wanted to say was a very negative take on emigrating and not the type of information they would want to be banded about at such seminars. So how do we get it highlighted? I´ve tried to contact the TV companies who make programmes like ´A Place In The Sun´ or ´Wanted Down Under´, but had no luck with them either. I did manage to get on Channel 4 News in 2006 and in the Australian newspapers, but this didn´t have much impact. Due to the way that Reunite operate this forum it is hard to get quick or real time contact with other mums going through this, so we are unable to unite as a group and make representations or have a voice. For any impact to be made at all we need to be part of a bigger group than this forum.
From Fiona / Posted: 30/05/2011
The Hague Convention as it stands is not protecting the rights of children. Whilst I sympathise with some left behind fathers -68% of those brought to the courts charged with child abduction are mothers
From Seeker / Posted: 12/09/2013
where does my situation fits into this?
My wife deceitfully took my 2 children to Norway for summer holidays (her parents live there). My wife is Norwegian national but my children are British National as well as Norwegian.
Now she has decided to stay in Norway and not come back to the UK. I am only allowed to speak with the children on the phone after very few days but not allowed to visit. Is there anything I can do in the UK (via police, courts) to initiate legal proceedings for her deceitful action to return my children back to UK. My children are 14 and 12?
From St Michael / Posted: 16/10/2013
Hague is the best hope for left behind parents who claim it is God sent help.

However, evidently many parents who have bitter feelings against HC are the ones who had HC invoked against them to return the child back to country of ´habitual residence´.

Anyone reading this, plz don´t intend to take away the child from the other parent despite your hatred towards him/her. Children should not lose a parent because of parents squabble or hatred.

It takes two to create a child, it takes two to raise one. Don´t assume full responsibility half way, unless the local courts grant sole custody to you.

Divorcing in international marriages and child custody is a very difficult situation and best way to move forward is by joint parenting with zero intentions of snatching, alienating, brainwashing all other evil emotions.

The laws of Karma are intact and strong and the guilty will be made to pay by the forces of nature. Also, the abducted Children will eventually grow up and find the truth one day and may hate the abducting parent.

May God bless everyone in this situation. This is a true test of sainthood.
From ChildrenFirst / Posted: 26/06/2014
I personally have not been subjected to the HC, but have tried to legally move back home from the UK to Germany. This move was planned with the other parent of the child taking careful planning for 2 years and was refused by the court as the other parent threatened to not have contact if the relocation was granted. The denial left me out of pocket for £48000 with an insecure job and no social or other support. I belive today, I would have been better off, leaving rather than trying the "legal" way. At least, if I would have left, there would have been expenses and effort on the other parent and the german court would have been involved rather to be judged by one judge only.

If HC or not, it is just the international way to strip primary carers of their human rights and the possibility to actually look after their child. As generally in contact arrangements, the child should be of paramount consideration and this is accoding to attachment theorists clearly only 1 person, who should be acessible at all times. Children do form more attachments, but they have an priority list in this. The equal share of parenting therewith is not in the benefit of a child, but solely a mathematical interest of adults (see as well current frensh discussions). How can it be better to push a kid from one person and home to another and refusing the child a stable home? How is it in the best interest of the child, that a location is judged of higher importance than the actual living conditions - welfare and affordability for the primary carer? How is a child going to grow up having to whitness the main carer being unhappy, deprived of all human rights to see their extended family, have a stable job and income because they are not allowed to follow up the job their offered?
I absolutely agree, that a child has the right to see and have contact with ALL family and this should be legally enforced, but to force shared parenting without the natural choice and to force the main carer to live without their social and financial support in an alien country, is not understandable.

Child abduction is one person removing the child without knowledge of the other person and refusal of contact - as such not the frequency of contact counts, but the quality.
From Ladi / Posted: 01/05/2015
I came home from work to find that my wife had packed out with our 2 children. I still saw them in the morning and didnt have any idea something was planned. She has only sent 2 sms and switched off/changed the sim cards of her phones as well as our chidrens" phones. I have not been able to communicate with my children. They didnt resume school with the other students. I"m getting information that she has travelled with them to the UK where she has a sister who is a citizen. I even learnt that the children have started school there. I´m being slowly broken psychologically because of no communication with my children
From JJ / Posted: 24/02/2017
Wow, seems like this is a male bash, for the Guys out there it happens to us too. My kids were snatched all 4 of them, went through the hague and lost, revenge no it was to protect my kids from an over medicated liar. I fought for my kids like any good father would and watched in horror as all my rights as a father were removed 1 by one, except child support I might add. Pain, you have no idea after nearly 10 years and many tearful nights. I was shocked that a forum would list a comment on the front page that was just a male bash. We are not all the same and we resent the inference we are. Some people abuse the hague and that includes women.

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