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The Court of Appeal has recently dealt with the question of the appropriateness of punitive sentences in parental child abduction cases.
For many years it has been accepted that it is contrary to the child's best interests for the abducting parent to be imprisoned and therefore family solicitors acting for the abductor commonly seek an undertaking from the left behind parent not to pursue criminal action. When these undertakings are sought they are almost universally forthcoming as the left behind parent is commonly advised that the court will expect such an undertaking so that it can be satisfied that the return to the home country will be as smooth as possible and without the child suffering any further adverse effects of the abduction. Such an undertaking also prevents an Article 13(b) defence under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 (the Hague Convention) being established in circumstances for example when abducting parents seek to resist a return Order being made on the basis that they will be liable to prosecution for child abduction if they were to return with the child and this would place the child in an intolerable position.
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