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Child Abduction Act 1984

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Version Superseded: 30/12/2005

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1 Offence of abduction of child by parent, etc.E+W

(1)Subject to subsections (5) and (8) below, a person connnected with a child under the age of sixteen commits an offence if he takes or sends the child out of the United Kingdom without the appropriate consent.

[F1(2)A person is connected with a child for the purposes of this section if—

(a)he is a parent of the child; or

(b)in the case of a child whose parents were not married to each other at the time of his birth, there are reasonable grounds for believing that he is the father of the child; or

(c)he is a guardian of the child; or

(d)he is a person in whose favour a residence order is in force with respect to the child; or

(e)he has custody of the child.

(3)In this section ’the appropriate consent’, in relation to a child, means—

(a)the consent of each of the following—

(i)The child’s mother;

(ii)the child’s father, if he has parental responsibility for him;

(iii)any guardian of the child;

(iv)any person in whose favour a residence order is in force with respect to the child;

(v)any person who has custody of the child; or

(b)the leave of the court granted under or by virtue of any provision of Part II of the Children Act 1989; or

(c)if any person has custody of the child, the leave of the court which awarded custody to him.

(4)A person does not commit an offence under this section by taking or sending a child out of the United Kingdom without obtaining the appropriate consent if—

(a)he is a person in whose favour there is a residence order in force with respect to the child, and

(b)he takes or sends him out of the United Kingdom for a period of less than one month.

(4A)Subsection (4) above does not apply if the person taking or sending the child out of the United Kingdom does so in breach of an order under Part II of the Children Act 1989.]

(5)A person does not commit an offence under this section by doing anything without the consent of another person whose consent is required under the foregoing provisions if—

(a)he does it in the belief that the other person—

(i)has consented; or

(ii)would consent if he was aware of all the relevant circumstances; or

(b)he has taken all reasonable steps to communicate with the other person but has been unable to communicate with him; or

(c)the other person has unreasonably refused to consent,

[F2(5A)Subsection (5)(c) above does not apply if—

(a)the person who refused to consent is a person—

(i)in whose favour there is a residence order in force with respect to the child; or

(ii)who has custody of the child; or

(b)the person taking or sending the child out of the United Kingdom is, by so acting, in breach of an order made by a court in the United Kingdom.]

(6)Where, in proceedings for an offence under this section, there is sufficent evidence to raise an issue as to the application of subsection (5) above, it shall be for the prosecution to prove that that subsection does not apply.

[F3(7)For the purposes of this section—

(a)guardian of a child”, “residence order” and “parental responsibility” have the same meaning as in the Children Act 1989; and

(b)a person shall be treated as having custody of a child if there is in force an order of a court in the United Kingdom awarding him (whether solely or jointly with another person) custody, legal custody or care and control of the child.]

(8)This section shall have effect subject to the provisions of the Schedule to this Act in relation to a child who is in the care of a local authority [F4detained in a place of safety, remanded to a local authority accommodation or the subject of] proceedings or an order relating to adoption.

Textual Amendments

F1S. 1(2)–(4)(4A) substituted (14.10.1991) for subsections (2)–(4) of section 1 by Children Act 1989 (c. 41, SIF 20), s. 108(4), Sch. 12 para. 37(2) (with Sch. 14 para. 1(1)); S.I. 1991/828, art. 3(2)

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