Legal Eagle: Protecting your children during a divorce

Get the court to draw up a Prohibited Steps Order.
Get the court to draw up a Prohibited Steps Order.

My ex-husband and I separated just over a year ago. I told him I want to get divorced and he has been very difficult.

He has been having regular contact with our eight-year-old daughter every Wednesday.

I am now very concerned because my daughter has told me that she is going to Germany to live with her father.

My ex-husband was abusive to me throughout the relationship and would often tell me he would take my little girl to Germany to live.

He is from Germany and his parents still live there, so I am very scared of what he will do.

He is refusing to speak to me about this but I know he has a flight booked at least for himself at the end of the month.

What can I do to stop him taking her abroad? If I get a divorce quickly does this mean he will lose the right to take her abroad?

Firstly, if you have a real concern that your ex-husband will remove the child from the country, I would urge you to seek legal advice as it is important you take steps to prevent this happening.

Unfortunately a divorce will not be granted before the end of the month. The average time for the court to grant a divorce is six months, provided he is in agreement, from the issuing of the petition.

Therefore the divorce will not be given before he is planning on going to Germany.

More importantly, the divorce does not automatically take away his parental responsibility and you would both still have a say in what happens with your child.

However, removing a child from the country is a very serious matter. To prevent this happening you can make an urgent application to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order.

This would be without notice being given to your ex-husband and would prevent removal from the Jurisdiction of England and Wales.

Attached to this Order would be a Penal Notice.

This means that if he was to breach the Order and try to remove your child from the country, he would be committing a criminal offence and would be arrested.

He could then be faced with a fine or potentially a prison sentence.

Legal Aid is available for this type of case provided that you meet the requirements with your financial income and that the threat is to take your child abroad.

I would urge you to seek legal advice from a solicitor with experience in this area.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has several specialist Family Solicitors who can advise you on issues such as childcare and child abduction. To speak to a Solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email For more information please visit