District Court of Gelderland
July 1 2022, ECLI:NL:RBGEL:2022:3355
The mother withdrew her three-year-old daughter from the father’s legal custody for 14 months. Now she gets a suspended prison sentence with probation and she must pay damages.
The mother did not return after a vacation with the minor abroad. She did not let the father know in which country they were staying. She had de-registered in the Netherlands and in France she had deliberately not registered and had no bank account or car in her name, with the aim that she could not be easily found. As a result, it took a year for the police to locate her, even though the police had energetically taken up the case.
No sign of life
The court blames the mother for removing the daughter from the father’s custody for such a long period of time, without giving any sign of life from the daughter during that time. The father was unable to maintain and strengthen his bond with his daughter during that period. This is all the more pressing because the daughter was only 3 years old and the bonding process is in full swing at that age. At the hearing it became clear that at no point did the woman stop to think about the consequences for the father and the daughter.
According to the mother’s lawyer, the mother acted out of helplessness and desperation and her behavior could not be separated from the disturbed relationship between her and the father.
Loss of parental authority
After her arrest, the woman lost custody of the daughter in the civil proceedings. She also only sees the daughter under supervision.
The court imposed a suspended prison sentence of 12 months, with a probation period of 3 years. During the probation period, the mother is obliged to keep in touch with the probation board and other social workers. The court also determines that she can only have contact with her daughter with the approval of the probation board, for as long as the probation board deems it necessary for her to have control over this. In addition, the court imposes community service of 180 hours. The court thinks it is important that the woman receives this guidance from the probation office and social services, because she and the father will have to go on together for a long time and the relationship between them is still precarious.
The court also determined that the woman must compensate the father for € 4,219.90 in non-material damage. This concerns the lawyer’s fees the father had to incur to be able to exercise his authority over the daughter again. The woman must also pay € 1,000.- in non-material damage to the minor herself. The father, as the legal representative of the minor, had claimed these damages on her behalf, because the minor had suffered damage due to the fact that she had been deprived of contact with her father for a long time.