Q&A - My wife and children have left. How can I find out where they have gone?

Q: My wife and I had a terrible argument over Christmas and she walked out of the family home taking the children with her. I haven't heard from her since and I have no idea where she has gone. I thought when the new term started she would take the children to school and I would be able to go there and get to talk to her, but this is not the case and the head says she has no idea where they are either. I am completely distraught and I just don't know what to do. Can you advise me?

A:  Your wife's whereabouts will be known to one of the national agencies or organisations and under Section 33 of the Family Law Act 1986 an Application can be made to the Court for a Disclosure of a Child's Whereabouts.  The Court has the authority to order an organisation such as the Benefits Agency or HM Revenue and Customs to disclose the address of the children and/or your wife to the Court.

Once the address is disclosed to the Court, the Court will then serve your Application upon your wife and she will be ordered to attend at Court.   Usually an Application for a Contact Order for Residence Order or Immediate Return of the Child Order will be made alongside such an Application.   It is also possible that you can make an Application for a Specific Issue Order under Section 8 of the Children Act and ask the Court to order that the mother returns the children to their school and home.

As this is a complex matter you should seek the advice of a family lawyer as soon as possible and make an appointment to discuss all your options.