Arguments & fights
over children

Crossing boundaries

Central Contact Point for Cross-border Family Conflicts

ZAnK - Zentrale Anlaufstelle für grenzüberschreitende Kindschaftskonflikte

Child Abduction

We can speak of child abduction when:

  • One parent has taken the child to another country or refuses to return the child to the other parent after a visitation in the other country;
  • The parents have joint custody of the child or the left-behind parent has sole custody of the child;
  • A parent who has full or joint custody did not give his or her consent to the child’s move.

To whom it can happen

Child abduction is not restricted to specific families. Nationality does not play a role at all. Parents affected by child abduction may be:

  • German couples
  • The „classical“ binational couples (German and foreign nationalities)
  • Couples of whom both partners have a foreign nationality, and
  • Couples with German nationality of both partners, but originating from a different cultural circle.
To put it in a nutshell: Child abduction is when a parent takes his or her child to another country without having consulted the other parent (or the person or agency who has legal custody, e.g. the Youth Welfare Office) or having obtained a relevant court decision.

Reasons for abducting a child

The reasons why a parent takes that step may be manifold: No job prospects and lack of financial security in the country where the family was living; social isolation as a result of the separation; fear of losing one’s child because as a foreign national, one might be put at a disadvantage by the local institutions of the country; different cultural backgrounds or legal conceptions; the feeling of having failed and wanting to chance one’s luck in another country; hurt feelings; domestic violence, etc.

In this situation, they sometimes lose sight of the child, and how the child may be affected by this step. Some parents are not aware of the possible legal consequences of their way of acting. So they are staggered when finding a letter from the court in their letter box.

The best thing to do is to avoid that a court or police becomes involved in the case. Therefore, the following pages will give you some information on how to act in such situations before a child abduction actually takes place.
In the 1980s, in view of the increasing number of child abduction cases, the Hague Conference on Private International Law developed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, in order to facilitate a prompt return of children to their home country (for more details, see the following pages). In addition to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, the European Brussels II bis Regulation as well as the 1996 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children are applicable for Germany as well (see the following pages).

These legal provisions are aimed at providing clear rules on which State has jurisdiction for making a decision; if and under what circumstances court decisions can be recognized in the other State; and how the decisions can be implemented (enforced). As the same rules are not applicable for all States, you are welcome to contact us for further information.

Please note

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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