Child abduction by a family member
Learn what to do if you believe your child has been abducted by a family member.
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If your child has been abducted by a family member, you can apply to family court to have the child returned to you, even if they have been taken out of Ontario.
If your child has been abducted, but is still in Canada, you need to speak with a family lawyer as soon as possible so they can assist you with the legal requirements and/or give you legal advice on what you need to do to have your child returned.
You need to have a parenting order or agreement in place to have any decision-making responsibility and parenting time arrangements enforced.
If you do not already have a parenting order or agreement in place setting out decision-making responsibility and parenting time with respect to the child, you may need to apply for a parenting order in family court, in the location where the child resided.
If you are divorced or getting a divorce
In Canada, both provincial and federal laws address decision-making responsibility and parenting time with respect to a child.
If a parenting order has not been made
If you have started an application for divorce, but a parenting order has not been made yet, you will need a parenting order from the court where the case started. This parenting order needs to be sought under the Divorce Act.
If you already have a parenting order
If you already have a parenting order made under the Divorce Act, you may be able to have it enforced in another Canadian province or territory.
Enforce the parenting order
To enforce the order:
- contact the local police
- tell them what happened
- tell them you have a parenting order for the child
They may ask to see a copy of the order and require other information to decide whether to enforce the order.
If you are not getting a divorce
If divorce proceedings under the Divorce Act have not been initiated, then the provincial laws apply and you will need a parenting order under Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act
If your child has been abducted and taken outside of Canada, you should:
- Contact local police and ask them to contact the RCMP’s National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, part of the RCMP’s Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
- Contact Consular Services, part of Global Affairs Canada. You can call:
Emergency assistance is available at these numbers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information and resources, see the Government of Canada’s Guidebook for Left-behind Parents.
The Hague Convention
Depending on where your child has been taken, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention) may apply.
Canada is one of 101 member countries to the Hague Convention. The signatories to the Hague Convention agree to cooperate with one another to help quickly return children to their habitual residence.
If you believe that your child has been taken to a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention, you can contact the Central Authority for the Province of Ontario for information on how to start an application.