Child custody

Children abroad: Contact and custody 

Contact the police if a child you are responsible for is at risk of being taken out of the UK (external link) without your consent. 

If you live in England or Wales, find out who to contact if you want to: 

  • try to get your child returned if they have been taken abroad or are being kept abroad without your permission 
  • arrange contact with your child who is in another country 
  • get a court order for contact enforced 

Stop someone getting a passport 

You might be able to stop a child or vulnerable person getting a passport (external link). You may want to do this if: 

  • you think your child may be abducted and taken overseas by their other parent (or someone who has parental responsibility) 
  • a relative is vulnerable (for example, they have a mental disability) and you do not think it would be safe for them to have a passport 

Contact the police or social services if you are concerned about these issues. 

You should not stop a child’s passport if they have already been taken overseas. It makes the process of getting them back harder and may also be against the law. 

If your child is taken into care 

If your child is taken into care (external link) because of a care order, the council will share responsibility for making most of the important decisions about your child’s upbringing, including: 

  • who looks after them 
  • where they live 
  • how they are educated 

If you agree to your child becoming ‘looked after’ and there is no care order, you will continue to have parental responsibility for your child. In either case, the council is responsible for: 

  • making sure that an appropriate standard of care is provided 
  • making sure only suitable people are employed to look after your child 
  • providing proper training and support to staff and foster carers 
  • listening to your child’s views and your views about care arrangements and taking their religion, race, culture and background into account 
  • making sure your child has someone independent to talk to and knows how to complain if necessary 

The child may be placed with either: 

  • another relative 
  • a foster carer 
  • a children’s home 

Support for parents 

The Family Rights Group Advice Service helpline provides confidential support for parents: 

Family Rights Group helpline 
Telephone: 0808 801 0366 
Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 3:00pm