For family law purposes, abduction occurs where a parent removes a child out of the possession of the other parent against that parent’s will and without legal authority to do so. In the event that a child is abducted, it is imperative to begin a court application immediately to obtain an order returning the child to a parent’s care.

Provincial statutes such as Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act and federal statutes such as the Divorce Act provide the Court with tools to prevent and correct abductions within Canada. Courts can order that the non-abducting parent have custody of the child, order the return of the children to a parent’s care and direct police to enforce the order. The Court can restrict the use or issuance of passports, and limit access to parents where there is a risk of abduction.

Where children under 16 are taken outside of Canada, parents can apply under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to have children returned to Canada if the child is in a country that is a signatory to the Convention. Compelling the return of children from children that are not signatories to the convention, while possible, can be extremely difficult.