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Surge in number of parents abducting their children

The number of parents abducting their children in family disputes has increased by 47% over the last year, according to the charity, reunite International Child Abduction Centre.

In seven out of ten cases reported to reunite, it was mothers who were responsible for the abductions.

The Acting Director of reunite, Alison Shalaby, said: "It is concerning that we have seen such a large increase in the number of children abducted, especially as we know this is just the tip of the iceberg - many cases go unreported either to ourselves or government departments.

"There are many reasons why a parent may abduct their child. For some it may be a deliberate act to deny the other parent contact, for others there may be sociological or economic factors, or in some instances a parent may abduct their child out of fear for the childīs safety.

"Whatever the reason, parental child abduction causes real harm to children who potentially suffer great emotional trauma by suddenly being ripped away from all they know and being denied contact with their left-behind parent and extended family."

The charity says it handled 512 new abduction cases in 2011. Of these, 479 children were abducted out of the UK, and 189 were abducted into the UK. There were also 16 children who were abducted between UK jurisdictions and 56 children who were abducted between non-UK jurisdictions.

Abductions are traumatic for all concerned but thankfully the vast majority of parents are able to come to amicable arrangements for their children. When there are difficulties, mediation with the help of a solicitor can usually result in an agreement that is fair to everyone involved, particularly the child.

Sometimes, simply stating the legal position is enough to make parents accept the reality of their situation so they can come to a satisfactory arrangement. If disputes still remain unresolved, court action may be necessary.

Even in extreme cases like child abduction, legal action can be taken to have the abducted child returned. The courts will then decide what level of contact with each parent is in the best interests of the child.

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