Frequently Asked Questions

Child abduction

What is child abduction?

Child abduction means that one parent has moved the child to another country or is withholding it in another country without the consent of the other parent with custody.

How can I ask for a return order?

You can file a request for a return order with the court in the state where your child has been abducted to.

What should I do if I think my friend or colleague has abducted the child?

You can try to be understanding towards the parent, who is probably in an emotional rollercoaster. You can try to talk and find out her or his thoughts and reasons. The decision to relocate/abduct the child can be caused by a misunderstanding of the situation or rigide thoughts about what is the best interest of the child. You can try to reach out to the child, who could be in an isolated and confusing situation. You can try to assist with (video)contact with the other parent, as this can be too difficult for the parent to accomodate right now.

What damage can child abduction cause to a child?

Child abduction can cause harm to the child as a result of the (prolonged) uncertainty of where he or she will live, the lack of (normal) contact with the other parent, the conscious experience of a period when the parents cannot agree and may exclude and/or disqualify each other, and possibly as a result of a period of isolated living if the abducting parent wants to keep the child hidden or fears abduction by the other parent. In addition, the stress surrounding the proceedings may cause the parent(s) to be less emotionally available to the child and lose sight of the child’s best interests.

What is a child's habitual residence?

The Convention does not give a definition of ‘habitual residence’. And the interpretation can vary per state/ court. You can read more about this subject on the page ‘Habitual Residence‘ of this website. 

What if I do not know where my child is staying?

If you have reason to believe that your child has been abducted to a certain country, but you don’t know where exactly, you can check if that country has a Central Authority (based on the Hague Convention), that can help you with locating your child. You can read this in the HCCH Country Report.

What is the 'one year period'?

The period of (at least) one year between the moment of the unauthorized transfer or the non-return of the child and the moment of requesting for the return. If it has been a year or longer, the court has to decide whether the child has settled in the new environment (art. 12 of the Convention). If it has, the court can refuse to give a return order. 

What if a child is taken to another country during the procedure?

Article 12 of the Convention states that if the court has reasons to assume that the child has been taken to another country, it can suspend the proceedings or deny the request. The transfer of the child to another country will not change the habitual residence of the child.