Abductions of children by one of their parents to countries outside the jurisdiction of the Hague Convention have risen by 39 per cent in the last year.
There has been a "significant increase" from 105 to 146 cases handled by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's child abduction section, mainly in Pakistan, India, Thailand, Ghana and Nigeria.
Abductions of children by either the mother or the father, without the consent of the other parent, usually peak over the summer months, when it is easier to pretend that the child is merely being taken on holiday – usually to a country where they have relatives.
The Hague Convention on child abduction is designed to protect the interests of children caught up in custody battles and aims to return them to their main country of residence. However, it only applies in countries which have signed up.
Sharon Cooke, of the Reunite charity, which helps parents whose children have been abducted, said: "Parental abduction is becoming an increasing problem as the world is getting smaller and there are more mixed relationships."