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

By: Abigail Taylor - Updated: 24 Sep 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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Hi just wanted to share my issue and looking for some information. 6 weeks ago I was thrown out of my house through manipulative control by my ex partner. He told me to go and sort my head out spend some time away from the kids and sort a place to live. Through the relationship of 8years he had trust issues he's cheated on me physically abused me, came back to me treated me like a child when it came to money it was like asking for pocket money. He's always thought I was cheating on him when I never did and he's done it to me again with a ex friend of mine. He's with-held money from me, he's stopping my children from talking to me alone by leaving me on loudspeaker so he can listen in also he's telling them that they don't have to talk to me if they don't want to. Never has he said he'll never let them see/talk to me but it's more my children's mental well-being that I care about and he's not doing anything to help them.
Breeze - 24-Sep-20 @ 4:51 PM
Guys.... Really need some accurate advice/information please. So....... long story short....... My partner (fiancee) of 15 years has informed me that our relationship is over, & that she is in love with another guy. She will be moving out to rented accommodation soon approx 5 miles away. (we are in housing association property at present, so no mortgage). She wants to take our son aged 14 with her, but he has told me that he does not want to go with her. He does not want to be away from his friends in the evenings, & does not want to catch the bus to & from school. She has not told him about the new boyfriend, but he has overhead phone conversations & seen txt messages from him. He has not told her he knows, but regardless of that, does not want to move. Can she force him to live with her ?. Is he legally allowed to decide for himself where he wants to live ?
P J - 4-Sep-20 @ 11:02 AM
I have a grandson..his mom is my daughter. When she needs to go back work in the city,she left her son in my custody. When her ex live in partner took my grandson,he didn't return it. When my daughter pay a visit,she tried to go to his ex to visit her child. But they never let her see the child until she needs to go back to her work again. As a mother,she's sending allowance for her child. When we had the chance to get the child...the ex come to visit his son and that's okay. But then, one night,he came again,entered inside my house and pull out his bolo and break the tv while his son is watching. so the boy run to his auntie shaking. When my worried daughter learned about this,she decided not to give her son back to her ex. The child to doesn't want to go back to his father's custody. Mt grandson started to share his experience to his father especially when he is drunk. As a grandma,should I return my grandson or follow my daughter's plead not to. Please help us!
Melirene - 1-Sep-20 @ 2:46 PM
hi i have two children with my ex husband we are both going through court proceedings for child custody.. it has been on going since May last year , my ex husband has caused domestic abuse towards me in our 3 year marriage and has caused child abuse recently to my older son aged 4, i have had my children live with me since birth during separation the children where with me until my ex hisband filed a Prohibited Steps Order in court when I was leaving my current city to move to Manchester for work he had stopped me from taking my children with me in oct 19 I had a hearing before a recorder who made the decision that my children live with their father on temporary basis until final hearing takes place, in January this year I let the courts know about my domestic abuse from my ex where they filed the hearing to be in the magic Court due to the covid 19 outbreak all my hearing had been adjourned .. i have had barely any contact with my children my ex has made all the decisions around them with out my input my ex has physically harmed my older son leaving mark on his body and the courts have not heard me in any sense due to fact finding that arnt true I am scared that am losing my children to a abuser I cannot think straight and I miss them dearly does anyone have any advice that could help me try and win back my children?
chaz - 31-Aug-20 @ 6:08 PM
The father of my child has decided to snatch my child in public town centre ,police cant do anything as hes on birth certificate,theres been domestic violence between us,hes been arrested for harassment,and now hes refusing to give my child back where i am the main carrer ,hes not got any spare clothes with him,any of his eczema creams ,and now hes thinking of taking him to Yorkshire where his parents live. He also smokes weed ,and i have no idea if hes been smoking it around our child ...
Auram - 29-Aug-20 @ 4:13 PM
My daughter has just turned one, I have not been allowed by the mother to see my daughter for nearly eight months now.... The other month I received photographic evidence that my ex has been having a well known paedophile round and there has been the police called to the address several times. social are involved and even tho they are putting her on the child at high risk register... There still seems to be nothing happening.. I call social services on a regular basis with concerns of my daughters welfair and being at high risk and I'm always getting palmed off saying I don't have evidence... (what evidence do they need?)... I have a private court hearing on the second but I feel this cannot wait as social have already let her down on too many occasions. Today as soon as I paid her child support I got a message saying my daughter said daddy for the first time, but my concern is that I've not been there for 8 months so who is she calling daddy? What can I do to ensure my child's safety? . I am on the birth certificate but the mother is excersising her rights and not letting me see her.... I am worried that this could turn into another baby P incident where social overlooked the situation. What can I do?
Steve - 21-Aug-20 @ 5:22 PM
Hi. I understand that a lot of people are in far worse situations than myself. However my ex is threatening to stopping me seeing my 2 year old daughter. I have her 2 nights a week and see her 4 days of the week. We did mediation just under 2 years ago as she stopped me seeing her for 10 weeks back then. I'm worried she will do the same again, my daughter and I have such an amazing bond and I'm a great dad. I just hate my ex making threats like that and holding it over me. I'm looking into shared custody, contact orders etc. I don't understand it all.
John - 11-Aug-20 @ 7:42 PM
I have just had my daughter for 2 weekends in a row shes only 3yrs old a bright living little girl Split from my ex wife 4 months ago, she moved a druggie and dealer into family home within 2 months, my daughter and stepson are not happy with the situation, their mum also a drug user has now centred her world around this man and he has a 1yr old whom he has stay at the house for weeks at a time, he has constantly assaulted my daughter thischild , when her mum has been at work, I ask the kids well what is theboyfriend doing when this happens?they both said hes just sat on a playstation, I have photo evidence of scratch hes galore on my daughter a bad urine rash burn I had to heal up for her, last weekend she turned up no answers from the mother, only defend doing the otherchild and boyfriend, she had a massive bite mark on her back from the other kid, again theboyfriend wasnt watching ! I had to get her hospital treatment and placed on penicillin, this week shes said, shes been signed of sick from work 2 weeks, as I told her she wasnt to leave my daughter in his care with that other child again, i then yesterday see her coming vain from work! She was very erratic s reaning at me monday for bo reason, i gave e her petrol mo ey to get my daughter tonursery last few daysbefore break up as she said she was skint, she did t take her, so shes now w.otionally abusing my daughter further not allowing her to speak to me as shes so honest for me to k ow if shes safe, instead shutting her away daily in the house with her boyfriend minding with my stepson and other abusivechild there, social services are investigating, now but will take a while, I'm worried sick shes being abused e.otionally and physically further by hischild and him not supervising, and so she can leave her in his care whilst she goes to work shes stopped her having contactwith me for no reason to hide this from me and to stop my daughter dis using any abuse with me shes getting in his care is there anything else I can do I'm out of my mind with worry for my daughters safety.
Steve - 23-Jul-20 @ 7:22 AM
My ex hasn't paid a penny towards the children in 14 weeks. Everytime I ask for something its always an excuse. The children now don't want to go to visit him and he's making out like I'm stopping him. He is on the birth certificate. I have a opportunity to move away save to buy a house have child care support so I can go to work but he won't let me the children want to move themselves.
Shell - 10-Jul-20 @ 8:54 AM
My partner left her husband 3 years ago and arranged 50/50 nights as he was wanting shared responsibility of the kids. She does the majority care (daily care and 75% of holidays as she works in a school and he decides to use his holiday time with his new partner rather than his children and refuses to pay a penny maintenance even though he earns 30k a year more.Pre covid he went to only having the children 3 nights and still refuses to pay anything and has now threatened to take them back 3.5 nights to avoid cma involvement.Can he do this without her permission and also what can she do about maintenance.I am really concerned about her mental well being at the moment as he is being really unreasonable about what is best for his children.
Andy - 9-Jul-20 @ 8:51 AM
@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
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