Arguments & fights
over children

Crossing boundaries

Central Contact Point for Cross-border Family Conflicts

ZAnK - Zentrale Anlaufstelle für grenzüberschreitende Kindschaftskonflikte

You abducted your child

You have returned to Germany together with your child without obtaining consent

If neither your spouse/partner nor a court has given their consent to your leaving the country together with your child, this constitutes child abduction. By doing so, you run the risk that your partner will apply for having the child returned under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; moreover, you run the risk that a charge will be brought against you, which may result in an international arrest warrant so that you may possibly be arrested when you return to your home country.


Abduction from a Hague Convention State

Proceedings under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

If you had lived in a Contracting State to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction and if the other parent has filed an application under the Hague Convention, the German Central Authority in Bonn will file an application for the child’s return with the local court of your place of residence in Germany. The Central Authority represents the interests of the left-behind parent in the other country. Usually the Central Authority will engage a lawyer to carry out the proceedings.

Alternatively, the left-behind parent can demand the handing over of the child with reference to the Hague Convention, but without involving the Central Authority.

Then the court will decide if your child has to return or if there is a reason against it. Such reasons are listed in Article 13 of the Hague Convention; however, for most of the Member States of the European Community, they are modified to some extent.Among other reasons, a child does not have to be returned if there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to serious harm, or if the child opposes being returned.

Please note: The courts evaluate these objections very carefully, applying a stringent standard.

Particularly in the States which are party to the Brussels II bis Regulation (which is applicable in most European States), the child’s return to his or her home country will be ordered if it is established that measures for the protection of the child have been taken there.

Order for the return of the child / Enforcement

A return order relates only to the child, not the return of the parent who abducted the child. When a return order has become legally effective and enforceable, this means that the bailiff can be engaged to return the child. The powers of the bailiff are laid down in Section 213a of the directives for bailiffs.

Then the bailiff, in the presence of the other parent or of a staff member of the youth welfare office, will pick up the child – from your home or from any other place where the child is staying.

In order to spare yourself and your child such a dramatic situation, you should ensure the voluntary return of the child. We can think together how to arrange this move.

Please note: Your child has a right to contact with both parents. This is just one of the reasons why you should always facilitate contact between your child and the other parent, in every stage of the procedure.

Amicable arrangement / mediation

Basically there is always the possibility to reach an amicable agreement – out of court as well as within the framework of court proceedings, e.g. proceedings under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Even after finalization of court proceedings, it is still possible to reach an amicable agreement. Many courts advise the parties (sometimes via their lawyers) to start mediation, which can take place while the court proceedings are still pending.

If parents decide to attend mediation, it will be helpful for them to know about their rights and obligations as well as what is legally admissible in the agreement. Therefore, it would be helpful for parents if they have lawyers to offer information and advice. Moreover, legal advice may be important if an agreement which has been reached by the parents in Germany, or assurances given by one parent, have to be put in a form which will be recognized and enforceable in the other State.

 

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