Child abduction

When parents separate, it may happen that one of them wants to move abroad with the children. This is not allowed without the consent of the other parent. Should they do so regardless, it constitutes child abduction and the Hague Convention on Child Abduction becomes relevant.

When is a child abducted?

A request for return may only be rejected if the residing parent has consented to not returning the child, if there is a serious risk that in returning the child would be exposed to physical or psychological harm or if a child has such an age and degree of maturity that his or her opinion should be taken into account resists the return. Such a ground is not easily accepted. Only in very clear cases of consent, danger or opposition will the return be denied.

What does the Hague Convention on Child Abduction entail?

Along with many other countries, The Netherlands is a member of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. The basic principle of this convention is “First return, then talk”. That means that the main rule is that a child abduction should be reversed. First, the child must return to the country where it lived before the abduction. Then in that country it must be decided whether a move is in the best interests of the child.

In abduction cases the motives of both the residing and the abducting parent are taken into account, but the fundamental discussion about the interests of the child which both parents sometimes tend to see differently, is to be conducted in the country of origin.

What is the International Child Abduction Centre?

The International Child Abduction Centre (Centrum IKO), an independent organisation funded by the government, can play an important role in child abduction cases. GMW advocaten works closely with the IKO in child abduction cases. The IKO advises parents in abduction cases in the broadest sense of the word. Marjet Groenleer belongs to a group of child abduction lawyers who meet regularly for discussions. Often there are many practical difficulties in child abductions and cooperation with the IKO is necessary.

GMW lawyers also works with foreign lawyers. It is important to know how a country deals with child abductions. Will the police assist? Is it wise to report the abduction or best not to? How is the abduction procedure regulated by the authorities in that country? Local knowledge is necessary, especially when it comes to executing orders.

Has your child been abducted?

Time is of the essence. Contact a lawyer as quickly as possible.

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