If there is any chance of locating your child without going to Court you should take that route because this will give you the opportunity to re-establish your relationship before the system gets involved and threatens its destruction.
If you don’t know where your child is living you can make an ‘application for an order for disclosure of a child’s whereabouts’ under Section 33 of the Family Law Act 1986. This is also referred to as a Seek and Find Order. The application is made on Form C4. The order allows the court to order anyone who may have information regarding the whereabouts of a child to disclose that information to the court.
You must be clear – question 3 – who you want the order made against; it may be a relative who has helped the removal, it could be the DWP or Revenue who are paying out benefits, or it could be the local authority which is providing schooling.
You can also make an application – using Form C3 – for the child’s recovery. Recovery may be ordered only where a Section 8 order (or equivalent order made in Scotland or Northern Ireland) has been breached and where a child has been snatched from a primary carer or has not been returned; it may result in a police officer taking your child by force.
If you do opt for the court route, go to the court, fill in the application and go before the judge of the day; don’t let them give you a hearing date which will inevitably be months in the future.
If you do not know where your child is and the courts are unable to assist there are a number of organisations which can help you. Your first option should be the Salvation Army who have a dedicated unit, The Salvation Army Family Tracing Service, 101 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BN – they report an 85% success rate.
You can also try:
Reunite, P O Box 7124, Leicester LE1 7XX Advice Line: 0116 2556 34
National Missing People Helpline (formerly Missing Persons), Freephone helpline: 0500 700 700, Helpline from outside the UK:
+44 (0)20 8392 4545, Message Home helpline: 0800 700 740.
Missing You: www.missing-you.net