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What Happens If My Ex Keeps the Children Without My Consent?

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 6 Jul 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Abduction Parental Responsibility

The thought of your ex partner taking your children is the worst nightmare of many parents, and so if it happens, understandably it is a very emotional and stressful time. Many people turn to the police for help to return their children, but how much the police can help is very dependent upon your personal situation. If both parents have Parental Responsibility and one parent is keeping the children against the other's wishes, the police CANNOT help, even if the children do not normally live with them. However, if the parent does not have Parental Responsibility, the police will be able to intervene.

So what is Parental Responsibility?

The Children Act 1989 defines 'Parental Responsibility' as 'all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child'.In plain English, this means that you have responsibility to:

  • house the child
  • protect and maintain the child
  • make decisions about their education
  • name the child
  • consent to any medical treatment for the child

Mothers automatically have Parental Responsibility as they are listed on the child's birth certificate. A father will automatically have Parental Responsibility if he was married to the mother at the time of the birth or was listed on the birth certificate. Alternatively, both parents can sign a Parental Responsibility Agreement and register it with the courts, or more commonly, a father can apply to the courts for Parental Responsibility.

To apply to the courts, you will need to fill in form C1 found at Gov.UK - Forms and Guidance. A court fee of £215 is also payable though you may be able to get assistance with this if you receive benefits or have a low income.

But what if both parents have Parental Responsibility?

The father of my son has decided not to return my child. He has access every week, but we had an argument about what time he should return my child and he said he wasn't going to return him as he has parental responsibility and he has found out he can legally keep our son. I called the police, but they said they can do nothing about it as he is named on the birth certificate and therefore has PR. I am beside myself with worry. It has been four days now and my ex is still refusing to return him. My son is only four and has never been away from me longer than a day. I can't eat or sleep and I am beside myself with worry. I just want my little boy back.

If both parents have Parental Responsibility then the police cannot intervene to take the child off one parent and give them to the other; the police cannot choose between parents, that is the remit of the courts.

In this situation, if you are concerned about being able to see the children, or, if you think that the children should live with you, you can apply for a Child Arrangement Order.

Note: You may have heard about Contact Orders or Residence Orders. A Child Arrangement Order replaces these older orders but those with Contact or Residence Orders need not re-apply. Also confusingly often those in practice will still refer to (for example) obtaining a Residence Order when applying for a Child Arrangement Order.]

What is a Child Arrangement Order?

This court order determines where your child lives, which relatives they have contact with, and what type of contact (e.g. in person, phone calls, or letters). Anyone with Parental Responsibility can apply for an Order.

To apply to the courts, you will need to fill in form C100 found at Gov.UK - Forms and Guidance. A court fee of £215 is also payable though you may be able to get assistance with this if you receive benefits or have a low income.

I am a father of two children six and three. When I went round to pick them up last week I found my ex collapsed on the sofa through drink and drugs and her ex partner also high on drugs. My daughter and son were not dressed and my daughter's nappy had not been changed for hours and she was playing with food in the dog's bowl. I have heard they are not being fed or looked after properly and the Social Services are looking into this.

Ordinarily, the court will give notice of the hearing to both parties so that they can attend and give their side of the story. However if you think that your child / children may be in danger, then you may be able to apply for an emergency without notice hearing which will be much quicker than a full "with notice hearing". However be aware that this will only be a temporary solution and that any without notice hearing will be followed shortly after by a full "with notice" hearing in which the court order may be changed. If you are considering this option, seek professional advice or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for some free assistance.

If you can show that your former partner is not able or appropriate to look after your child / children, you may be able to get an order stating that the children should live with you. However you will need to evidence this.

Below are easy ways to obtain this evidence:

  • Take photographs of the condition of your children when you see them (e.g. unwashed / dirty clothes / dirty nappy)
  • Video or photograph your interaction with your former partner when going to collect your children, including any condition of their house as you can see it from areas into which you are invited / the doorway. However remember that you must not trespass into the property.
  • Take a witness with you when you go to try to collect the children (e.g. a family friend or if possible an independent person such as a local church minister).

Note that the courts are very unlikely to not award at least contact to a parent, even if they are inappropriate to look after a child. However this contact may be indirect, such as by letter, or supervised at a contact centre.

Remember that whilst the police cannot take a child away from a parent with Parental Responsibility, they are able to intervene and remove a child if there is a real risk to life. If you are concerned about a real and immediate threat to your child's safety, speak to your local police force and social services.

If you are unsure about your rights, speak to your local Citizens Advice Bureau who will be able to provide you with free assistance. The courts may be able to help, but this can be a lengthy process and you will need to evidence any concerns. It is therefore important to know your options before seeking a court order.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
@worriedgran.so the mother is lesbian bye so sound off things living in pub room with a little child .you are right it’s not a good place for small child .but maybe that’s all they can afford right now .i myself have lived in many pub room for work and when in between places .in depends on the place as you said it’s a flat so could be alright .f I have stayed in sum pubs where there was no locks or windows and with shady characters back when I worked in events traveled everywhere living out of suitcase.but I have stayed in sum really nice ones to.maybe he just have save up for solicitor make sum cuts elsewhere on other things .that way the solicitor and work out a order that suits with he’s work life .and totally understand how difficult it is with sum jobs and working away from home .
Chriso - 5-Jul-20 @ 4:30 PM
Hi my son and his ex had a baby girl almost 3 yrs ago. She kicked him out 3 months later after a 12 year relationship. She has not let him see or speak to her in 5 weeks. He works 5 days of a 7 day rota so doesn't have set days off. She says that he should have her every weekend as she needs routine and that he can't have her when he's off in the week but how can he physically have her at weekends if he's working?! She won't answer his calls, takes 3 days to reply to his texts. He is at his wits end!! Can she do this? He has PR. He doesn't have the money and neither do we, to get a solicitor and doesn't qualify for help. We as grandparents haven't seen or spoken to our grandaughter either as his ex has blocked us. She has moved into a flat above a pub with her new girlfriend which is not the best environment to raise a small child and now with lockdown restrictions being lifted, I worry for her health. Please no judgmental or hurtful comments, my heart can't take it anymore.
Worriedgran - 4-Jul-20 @ 8:55 PM
My ex has taken my son no PR he has also taken his daughter who he has PR. Hes phoned social services as I had an argument with current partner. The kids have no boundaries with him. The do with me. My kids are saying they dont want to come home hes turning my kids against me day by day what do I do? Hes also make in my kids lie too
Bexs100188 - 4-Jul-20 @ 6:38 AM
Hi. Mother of my son and the social worker decided to send my son back to school last week without even asking me about it. I am not working at the moment so I could easily stay with him at my place like we've been doing for most of this coronavirus time. I have amazing contact with my son and he love to spend time with me. Could they just put him back to school and at risk without father permission? By the way. I have exactly same rights as my son's mother. The only difference is she live with my son. Thanks
Maniek - 1-Jul-20 @ 8:57 AM
@candice.i am packing it in the fat lady has sang .people can say what they want about me .in reality I am no father the child’s been gone longer then I ever new her and I didn’t even really know her years go she was a baby .she be alright she most likely grow up to be a we’ll around adult bye now .in my defence I really tried to the point I was in front of courts again .(what more can I do ?).her mother will just (stitch me up again )if I ever tried again .so I am giving up .
C laurie - 22-Jun-20 @ 8:24 PM
Please help!!! I've been though a lot the past 6 years trying to figure out how to get my daughter back!!! No custody agreement and his not on the birth certificate and refuses to let her be alone with her!!!
Candice - 22-Jun-20 @ 2:07 PM
Hi i have 2 younger daughters whom i lost custody because i needed to show more stability ...long story short thier paternal grandmother was awarded custody and now she gave then over to some people non relatives in Mississippi. I live in Alabama. I have visitation rights and phone privileges that ive been denied now for 3 months. I have not lost mu roghts but these people are directly ignoring my rights to call or see my kids
Shannon - 22-Jun-20 @ 2:32 AM
My ex partner moved my child from Scotland to England without any notice (didn’t even tell him till day before).I got a court order to try and stop her however because she had sold up and purchased a house in England and changed our sons school The Scottish court reluctantly allowed her since they had no home in Scotland to return to.Move forward 3 years and my son is 12.He is miserable, Crying and wanting to be with me in Scotland. He is here on a visit however doesn’t want to go back. I have PR due to his age but where do I stand if he doesn’t go back or if she refuses to let him move?Can the police force his return and is my son at 12 allowed his own legal representation (can that be Scottish or English) ?Urgent advise needed.Thank you
Eddie - 21-Jun-20 @ 1:43 AM
@man-man.this is legal advice but advice from a ex father who has been in cells and doesn’t have contact with my daughter .first thing your need to do Is (stay out of trouble and away from the cells ). turn your depressed feeling of not seeing your son into motivation and change your life .use your love for your son even though you don’t see him To make your life better and when he’s a adult he will be proud of you .when you tell him your story and how you used your love for him to turn it around .this is my advise .
C laurie - 15-Jun-20 @ 7:47 PM
@man-man.this is not legal advice but advice from a ex father( maybe you should give up mate And work on your life) .you will see him again one day.mate I am in the same boat I don’t have any contact with my daughter even social media or have ever known the child whereabouts I don’t know what state or country they live .but I am ok with that It’s mothers job mate to have the children that’s what I think anyway .my advice from a ex father to another ex father is( give up ) for yoursanity health and well-being just wait to your son is a (adult) if it’s meant to be it will happen when your son is a adult.maybe not the advice you wanted to here but I know from experience mate you won’t win brother it’s pointless don’t even try it will only end in more heart ache.
C laurie - 15-Jun-20 @ 7:21 PM
My son is 7 now he was 2 when his mother took him from me i got incarcerated in the county jail right around the time we had a court date for family court the judge said she will let them know i was in custody but that wasn't the case the day came i was still in jail i told the correction officer i had a court date for my son he said no i didn't it wasn't in the system so i Sat in jail very depressed well the day came i got out but it was to late i couldn't find my son they were not living in the same house anymore also i never received a paper from the courts letting me know if im allowed to see my son or not they had my correct information address everything i went down to the courts to see if anything was in the system they couldn't find anything on my case with my son. So my question is how would i find my son i don't know if she left the state with him it's been five years I've asked everyone i know and they don't know what to tell me also she blocked me off all social media i cant even find them on google i need help desperately.also my name is on his birth certificate and he has my last name
Man-Man - 15-Jun-20 @ 6:47 AM
My son is 7 now he was 2 when his mother took him from me i got incarcerated in the county jail right around the time we had a court date for family court the judge said she will let them know i was in custody but that wasn't the case the day came i was still in jail i told the correction officer i had a court date for my son he said no i didn't it wasn't in the system so i Sat in jail very depressed well the day came i got out but it was to late i couldn't find my son they were not living in the same house anymore also i never received a paper from the courts letting me know if im allowed to see my son or not they had my correct information address everything i went down to the courts to see if anything was in the system they couldn't find anything on my case with my son. So my question is how would i find my son i don't know if she left the state with him it's been five years I've asked everyone i know and they don't know what to tell me also she blocked me off all social media i cant even find them on google i need help desperately.also my name is on his birth certificate and he has my last name
Man-Man - 15-Jun-20 @ 6:44 AM
My son is 7 now he was 2 when his mother took him from me i got incarcerated in the county jail right around the time we had a court date for family court the judge said she will let them know i was in custody but that wasn't the case the day came i was still in jail i told the correction officer i had a court date for my son he said no i didn't it wasn't in the system so i Sat in jail very depressed well the day came i got out but it was to late i couldn't find my son they were not living in the same house anymore also i never received a paper from the courts letting me know if im allowed to see my son or not they had my correct information address everything i went down to the courts to see if anything was in the system they couldn't find anything on my case with my son. So my question is how would i find my son i don't know if she left the state with him it's been five years I've asked everyone i know and they don't know what to tell me also she blocked me off all social media i cant even find them on google i need help desperately.
Man-Man - 15-Jun-20 @ 6:41 AM
I could do with some advice, I have a court order in place which states shared care and before the outbreak i had my son 6 nights out of 14, for this i am paying CMS, presently my 8yo is residing with me and over the past 2 years i have had concerns about his welfare while with his mother, currently i have had my son since the 20th march, as his mother is in poor health, can i make an application for emergency residence, on the grounds of poor health, i have had text messages of his mother saying he is better off with me, but she will not stop the CMS case which is ongoing?
robnic - 10-Jun-20 @ 6:14 PM
About 5 months ago the mother of my daughter asked if I could take her temporarily because she was being evicted, a few weeks went by without hardly any contact from the mother, after a few weeks my daughter started visiting her mother on the weekends, my daughter would get upset saying that she didn't want to leave me, she had told members of my family that she worried about her mum finding a new house and that daddy wouldn't be able to find her, the mother and myself came to an agreement that during the week I would take care of my daughter so that she attended school ect, when covid-19 struck I could no longer go to work so I said I'll have to start claiming the child benefits something that her mother had been claiming for the previous 5 months even though she didn't have her, she even asked me for the child maintenance on the first month, anyway as soon as I said this she started demanding I dropped my daughter back saying I'm not going to ruin her life aka benefit money. I said no and made her take me to court. Since then the court ordered a child agreement order for 6 weeks until the next court hearing once cafcass and social services did there reports. The judge said that I would have my daughter Monday to friday and her mum over the weekend. The very first weekend that the order was put in place my exs grandmother informed me that my ex had taken my daughter to live in London something it stated in the order she couldn't do, I tried emailing my ex partner saying if you bring our child back before Tuesday lunch time I will not report her for breaking the order. It has now been 10 days since I've seen my daughter or spoken to her. I've reported this to the court but I am waiting for them to enforce the order, what consequences would my ex partner be facing, I wouldn't want my daughter seeing her mother in a contact centre because that will stick with her forever.
Pawny - 30-May-20 @ 4:37 AM
I have a son he was born in 2005 his mother left me when he was 3ish with my child hood best friend she moved to Florida I tried to have her served she moved to Colorado and the. The guy she was with got raided by dea and arrested and charged with money laundering and frugs, also my son was present the hole arrest. Now its bee. 6 months she is back 2 st Louis and wants me to see him but only on her time I have no rights and he is thrown the middle. Anything would help Thanks Brandon
Brandon - 22-May-20 @ 3:49 AM
My son 2 years nearly Me and his mother have just recently split My ex mother has been cautioned for harassment and assault to me and she is saying she is taking our son to see her My ex has a 10 year old daughter who’s gran has smacked her and hit her for behaviour this woman is very direct and calls this 10 years old dad worse than crap can is stop this so this doesn’t happened to my son and turning against me when I’m not there ? My sons mother has agreed to shared care ? But what about the 3.5 days I’m not there she loves two doors away from my son. Help this woman is dangerous !!
Stev - 6-May-20 @ 9:37 PM
I have recently been discharged from rehab (alcohol) so am in recovery and taking all the necessary steps to maintain my health. Since my admission my son has been living with his father. His Father is becoming increasingly difficult. Changing my sons doctor without advising me and not informing me of this or other events in my sons life. My son was recently stopped by the police for smoking weed. I was informed of this event by a friend, wherein I was also told that his father allows him to smoke it in his presence. I am desperately trying to restore my relationship with my children (my son is 16). However I feel my ex is hindering this process by encouraging my son not to contact me. Is there an external service I can contact to help ease the way.
Emma - 5-May-20 @ 11:01 AM
My ex husband was over indulging my 13 year old son which resulted my son worshiping his dad. My son was pushing all boundaries and was behaving worse on a weekly basis! In the end this resulted in me telling my son to stay with his dad for a bit, but I expected to see my son ever other weekend! My ex took my son while I was in work the following day while I was in work, he will now now let me see my son for no reason and just makes up an untrue stories about me. I now have not seen my son for 3 months and he will not answer my messages, I think this is so he doesn’t upset his dad! Appeared to be nothing I can do as my son will not go against his dad!
Sprouts - 13-Apr-20 @ 8:37 PM
I need some advice. My ex partner took my daughter into isolation for 3 weeks and agreed that I would take her back on the 12th April which is her birthday. And that would be just short of the 3 weeks. He’s now refusing to give her me back on the 12th April and said he is locking the door and I can’t even come see her. Does he have the right to keep her with him? Can I phone the police and say he’s refusing to give me her back? She stays with me full time and goes to his on weekends usually. Please help my heart is breaking
Steph - 9-Apr-20 @ 9:32 AM
Hi I have been my son’s career and stay at home dad for 7years, and when my marriage to his mum ended he moved in with me, we have lived together for over 6 months now. He has regular contact with his mum and brother His mum as turned round and said she wants him back.. and told me that I can either set a date to give him back or she is just going to keep him.. Can she do that? She said because we are still married she can. We are both named on his birth certificate.
Skegypeanut - 1-Apr-20 @ 1:08 PM
My ex has stopped me seeing my child for 3 months now..she says I always let her down when I dont..she says to keep to set dates but when she changes them or I cant change she stops me seeing her..this is not fair one bit...
Ad - 27-Mar-20 @ 4:36 PM
Hi could i get some advise please. 8 weeks ago i was unwell with depression my mum asked my exes parents if they could look after my 12 month old baby for a few days while i got better. My mum is disabled so couldnt. My ex has now moved in with his parents and they wont give me my baby back. My ex goes out to work every day and his 65 year old mum and dad r looking after her. They r using the corona virus as an excuse saying they cannot leave the house and no one can go there. I am at my whits end and want my little girl back. I am crying every day and no one will help me Not the police social services or doctor. What can i do
Amber - 26-Mar-20 @ 1:40 AM
I have come out of prison My girlfriend was cheating on me Wiles i was inside she then told the authorities that i was aggressive wen i saw her at her home days later they then wanted to talk to me regarding our son and his safety with i done so Everything was fine from that point on. She now wants to rebuild and keeps pushing me away she donse not have our son on a day to day basis he lives with her mother I want my son but i dont know if I would be arrested i am on the birth certificate and I named him but in Glasgow its not simple with police and authorities i dont know what to do with everything
Billyjean - 15-Mar-20 @ 4:39 AM
My ex has stopped me seeing my child, has told me and our child that I am the bioligical Dad but her new oartner us Daddy. She has told the police and s s. i have asssulted our child. Totally untrue, she yold s s. i had assaulted my oartners child. Again totally untrue Police & s.s found no evidence. I used to see my child every other w/e, holidays. Took my child on holiday. She just wants the money from maintenance. It is £300 a month, if i see my child it would be less. Her response to my partner was she knew it was unfair but she wasn't giving up her money for nobody, so do one. She is using my child as a weapon.She did exactly the same thing with her eldest childs FatherHe only restarted a relationship with his daughter when she was 20.I fear this will be the same, history repeating itself. She always portrays herself as the victim. She left me with a lot of debt, some run up behind my back I know its not just women, men can be the same. I havent seen my child for 2 yrs now.I have tried,i seen birthday & xmas cards/gifts. Have opened a trust account for her. I just dont have the money to go to court, im paying the debts she ran up and the highest amount in maintenance. I jyst want a relationship with my child
009 - 11-Mar-20 @ 10:44 PM
My partners ex is making our life hell. She keeps using the child from thier relationship as a weapon. She refuses to let the child spend time with them and now because she is not letting them see the child, she has gone to the child services claiming that they don’t want to see the child and now has asked to receive more money. She is just using the kid to get money off my partner. What can we do it is affecting us financially?
Anonymous - 21-Feb-20 @ 6:12 PM
Hi I need some advice My brother has full custody and a long standing 5 years of battles and got full custody of first daughter since has 2 more kids with same woman they have come to a point where she left when he was sleeping as she has been cheating and setting a new life up with new guy but as she knew she wouldn’t be able to take all children with out making stuff up so now has gone to police to make false statement saying my brother is controlling her when I’m fact she was removed from mother and baby unit before my brother got the house because she has been cheating before and couldn’t get up for the baby using excuses after excuses for her behaviour causing problems she has several times cheated but my brother didn’t expect this to happen so where does he stand regards to she has taken all 3 they share custody for 2 but the first is in his full custody social say go to lawyers which he is doing right now but would like advice on where he stands
Buttons123 - 3-Feb-20 @ 1:12 PM
@mhay.well your in the same (time bracket) as me .i went and seen a solicitor and what they told me that I don’t have much off a (case) .and (advised) me to wait two the child is a (adult) then try make contact though (social media ).but I have been (blocked) so for me I have personally giving up (all hope now I am done for good )maybe one day she will want to meet me I won’t hold my breath but .
Chris - 1-Feb-20 @ 4:59 PM
My ex husband keep away my daughter for 12yrs he hide at me.I want to introduce to my daughter that im her mother.And my ex have already wife
Mhay - 1-Feb-20 @ 11:14 AM
Do I have any rights to see my grandson he lived with me and his father and motherfor 2 years after being born she has now decided he will not see us what can i do
Nanni - 29-Jan-20 @ 5:37 PM
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