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Be Informed:Parental Child Abduction

If your child is missing or you are worried your child may go missing, please refer to How can we help you? for information on indicators of risk, prevention, and immediate steps.

Parental child abduction involves situations where one parent takes or keeps a child under the age of 14 away from the other parent without the other parent’s consent. Regardless of whether there is a Canadian court order of custody, the abducting parent may be charged with parental child abduction (kidnapping) under the Criminal Code of Canada. Where there is no Canadian custody order, special consent from the Attorney General1 must be given before a parental child abduction charge can be laid.

In Canada, abduction by a parent or guardian is the most common form of child abduction.

In parental child abduction situations:

  • It is not uncommon for other family members to assist the abducting parent in removing or concealing the child.
  • A child can be taken for days, months, or years, and may not have contact with anyone outside of the abducting parent.
  • A child may be told that they are just staying over at the abducting parent’s house longer, going for an extended vacation, or that the searching parent has been harmed or no longer wants them.
  • A child may, in extreme cases, be given new identities and travel from place to place.

While most parental child abductions are resolved with the searching parent and the abducted child reunited quickly, they are harmful and traumatic events that may have lifelong impacts on everyone involved. For more information on the impact of parental child abduction, download the information sheet below.

For additional information on parental child abduction, please refer to our Parental Child Abduction section.

  1. 1 The head of prosecution services in the province or territory the criminal proceedings take place.