14th September 2011 London, UK

Child Abduction in Mexico

Karen Harris, Consular Officer,


There are always two sides to the story when it comes down to the breakdown of a relationship, and achieving an amicable separation can be even harder when children are involved. Custody disputes can cause much anxiety for parents and inevitably emotions run high leading some parents to take the law into their own hands by taking their children without the permission of the other parent. Receiving the call of the left behind parent is one of the hardest calls I have had to take, as there are no guarantees I can give about how long they will remain separated from their children. Managing parents’ expectations can be very difficult because, despite mechanisms in place in signatory countries to the Hague convention for the return of the children, the process of restitution can take years in some countries.  The legal system in Mexico differs greatly from that of the United Kingdom and therefore parents can find it hugely frustrating navigating a foreign legal system, even with the services of an in-country lawyer.  Tracing a child in Mexico is particularly difficult due to its geographic and population size and therefore parents sometime feel like they are trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Despite this feeling of helplessness, understandably most parents do not give up searching for their abducted child, in the hope that for the next child’s birthday they will be present.

Sadly, in Mexico we have cases where left behind parents have spent years trying to locate their children in order to initiate the legal process to return the children to the UK. In these cases, our Consular team has provided assistance in liaising with the local authorities, requesting updates on developments and in arranging welfare checks to relay information to the left behind parent about the child’s well-being. In some cases we do achieve a successful outcome and, for me, the knowledge that our consular assistance can help a parent recover contact with their child is hugely rewarding.