LEGAL EAGLE: Worried that husband might take child abroad

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My ex-husband and I separated just over a year ago, I told him I want to get divorced and he has been very difficult since this time. He has been having regular contact with our 8 year old daughter on a Wednesday every week. I am now very concerned because my daughter has told me that she is going to Germany to live with her father. My ex-husband was abusive to me throughout the relationship and would often tell me he would take my little girl to Germany to live. He is from Germany and his parents still live there so I am very scared of what he will do. He is refusing to speak to me about this but I know he has a flight booked at least for himself at the end of the month. What can I do to stop him taking her abroad? If I get a divorce quickly does this mean he will loose the right to take her abroad?

Firstly, if you have a real concern that your ex-husband will remove the child from the country I would urge you to seek legal advice as it is important you take steps to prevent this happening.

Getting a divorce from your husband will not be granted before the end of the month. The average time for the Court to grant a divorce is six months, provided he is in agreement, from the issuing of the petition and so the divorce will not be given before he is planning on going to Germany.

More importantly the divorce does not automatically take away his parental responsibility and you would both still have a say in what happens with your child. However, removing a child from the country is a very serious matter.

To prevent this happening you can make an urgent application to the court. This would be without notice being given to your ex-husband, for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent removal from the Jurisdiction of England and Wales.

Attached to this Order would be a Penal Notice this means that if he was to breach the Order and try to remove the child he would be committing a criminal offence and would be arrested. He could then be faced with a fine or potentially a prison sentence.

Legal Aid is available for this type of case provided that you meet the requirements with your financial income and that the threat is to take the child abroad. I would urge you to seek legal advice from a solicitor with experience in this area.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has several specialist Solicitors with experience in divorce and child abduction. If you are concerned about any of the issues discussed above please contact our Solicitors on 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for more information.