Arguments & fights
over children

Crossing boundaries

Central Contact Point for Cross-border Family Conflicts

ZAnK - Zentrale Anlaufstelle für grenzüberschreitende Kindschaftskonflikte

Your partner abducted the child to a so-called Hague Convention State

1. Application under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction

If your child is staying in a Contracting State to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, you can file an application with the Central Authority in Bonn to have the child returned.
The main aim of the Hague Convention is to ensure a prompt return of children to their home country. It is assumed that a prompt return of the child is in the best interests of the child; only in exceptional cases can the child’s return be refused. The decision on parental custody and the right of access has to be made in the country in which the family lived before the child’s wrongful removal. In addition, in some States it is required to obtain permission (either from the spouse or from a court) before taking the child to another country.
For most Member States of the European Community, the Hague Convention on Child Abduction is supplemented by the Brussels II bis Regulation.

Where and how must the application be filed?

You can file the application with the Central Authority. In Germany, this is the “Bundesamt für Justiz” (Federal Office of Justice) in Bonn. The Central Authority will forward your application to the country to which your child was abducted. The Central Authority of that country will take the necessary steps according to the national laws of that country.

Deadline for an application for the child’s return

The application for the child’s return should be filed as soon as possible – within one year at the latest. If more than a year has passed since the child’s wrongful removal, it is not possible anymore to have the child returned if the other parent can prove that the child has settled into his or her new home.

Costs

The German Central Authority and the Central Authority in the other country do not charge any fees. Only the following costs have to be met:

  • Translation costs (applications, notifications and other documents have to be translated). Exemption from payment of the costs for translation may be possible under certain circumstances (legal aid).
  • In some States, court fees and lawyers’ fees are charged.


2. Steps that can be taken without involving the German Central Authority

It is not obligatory to turn to the Central Authority in Bonn. Parents may contact the Central Authority of the other country directly if they wish to do so. Parents may also turn to the courts in the other country directly to file an application for having their child returned.
In such cases, it should always be checked beforehand whether it is required in that country to engage a lawyer.

Please note: Court proceedings are time-consuming and expensive. In addition, they always cause emotional distress: to the parents and, first of all, to the children.

However, a court order for the child’s return may not always be the ultimate solution which is in the best interests of the child or which best meets the needs of the parents – e.g. if a child has returned to his or her country of origin and subsequently the abducting parent finally gets permission to leave the country. Besides, there are cases where a parent just wants to make sure to maintain regular contact with the child - and then he or she will agree to the child’s relocation to the other country.
Therefore, it should always be attempted to reach an amicable solution to the problem. Parents should always keep in mind not to focus on their own rights in the first place, but on the best interests of their child. Please feel free to contact us for more information or any questions.

3. Amicable arrangement

In the context of proceedings under the Hague Convention, there is always the alternative to reach an agreement out of court. Many courts offer the possibility of mediation. Mediation takes place on a voluntary basis. Apart from the question whether a child will return and what are the preconditions, the parents may discuss e.g., which of them will see the child when, how often and where; whether child support is paid; or what will happen to furniture they possessed. If they succeed in reaching an agreement, it will be recorded by the judge and be rewritten in a form which makes the agreement legally effective and enforceable.
If the parents fail to reach an agreement by means of mediation, the decision on the child’s return will be made by the court.
It has to be made sure that the agreement will be legally effective in the other State as well. For most Member States of the European Community, this is ensured by the Brussels II bis Regulation. The enforceability of agreements which do not refer to a child’s return but e.g. to child support or visitation, depends on the individual case.

 

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This website is currently under construction. We apologize for any inconvenience because some pages are not yet complete. For any questions, please call: 030 / 629 80 403.

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