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Martine Wernsen

Lawyer and mediator in The Hague, The Netherlands

Martine Wernsen

Versteegh cs Advocaten

www.ve-advocaten.nl

0031 (0) 70-314 24 15

Martine has been an attorney since 2003. She has experience in criminal law, juvenile law, family law and psychiatric patient law. She also works as a mediator.

Since a few years she focuses on family cases involving relocation of children and child abduction.

Martine has created this website (www.carefulchildrelocation.com) to draw more attention to these issues and to ensure a good cooperation between clients and lawyers in these often urgent cases. In addition to her practice, she is working daily to add information about these types of cases to this website.

Martine speaks and writes Dutch and English.

Martine does not accept cases on the basis of subsidized legal aid.

Relevant experiences and positions

Decision making model

Martine graduated from the University of Utrecht in both civil and criminal law. After her studies, she immediately started working as a lawyer. During career as a lawyer in The Netherlands, Martine has completed several specialization courses in the fields of criminal law, juvenile law and family law. She was also an active board member of the Hague Association of Juvenile Lawyers. This diversity of interests and experiences is useful in child abduction cases, since that is where those different areas of law intersect.

Martine started mediation training in 2021. There, she develops the skills needed to analyse, together with the parties, what interests they have and what these interests are based on. She considers it very important to find out the underlying interests, emotions and patterns in order to have constructive discussions.

In 2021, Martine started writing for Careful child relocation. At first, that website was ment just for her office. It was only later that she realized how valuable it would be to share this web site with other lawyers from many different countries.

Today, Martine combines her practice with working on the website. She likes to find out how the Hague Convention on Child Abduction is implemented in the various Member States. She also likes to read about the social and psychological consequences of relocation and emigration for children and adults. Martine greatly appreciates the input she receives from other lawyers. She incorporates everything into the articles and blogs she writes for carefulchildrelocation.com.

Some personal questions

When did you first handle a child abduction case?
It was in 2016. My colleague already had experience with these cases, but for me it was quite overwhelming.

Why is it interesting for you as a lawyer to work on these cases?
For me, it is pleasant to work intensively with my clients over a number of months. You have to dive right in and make sure that the client feels that he or she can be open and honest and that you don’t miss any important details.

Which cases are you most concerned with?
With cases where siblings no longer grow up in the same country. I think that bond is hugely important and deserves more protection.

What do you think will change in the future in this area of law?
I think and hope that there will be more focus on the importance of children growing up with their siblings. And I hope that there will be better communication with children about how the fact that they are allowed to talk to the judge or special trustee does not mean that their opinion will be decisive.

What is your advice to parents dealing with international child abduction?
Try to look at the dispute from some distance. Try to think about how you want to look back on this period in 5 or 10 years. Will you be able to explain to your children how you acted in these proceedings? Can you say that you tried to look at it objectively?

Decision making model

Blogs from Martine Wernsen

12 months of suspended prison sentence

12 months of suspended prison sentence

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.  Unknown address The...

How not to involve the children

How not to involve the children

Arnhem Court of Appeal, The Netherlands May 24, 2022, ECLI:NL:GHARL:2022:4136 After the divorce, the father and mother both lived in the same residence. The court had rejected the mother's request to move with the children (8, 10 and 12 years old) to another city. The...

Permission to move not required

Permission to move not required

Court of Midden-Nederland, The Netherlands 9 June 2021, ECLI:NL:RBMNE:2021:2432 A parent does not need (replacement) permission to move, if the child does not move with him. The parents have joint custody of the child. The child is registered at the mother's address....

Mother had sole custody, but must return the child

Mother had sole custody, but must return the child

Supreme Court, Netherlands October 15, 2021, ECLI:NL:HR:2021:1513 The mother with custody moved with the child to an unknown destination before the parties became joint custodians. Nevertheless, the court may decide that the mother must move back with the child. The...

Is it a criminal offence if you abduct your own child?

Is it a criminal offence if you abduct your own child?

Appeal Court The Hague, The Netherlands,  December 2 2019, ECLI:NL:GHDHA:2019:3154 In this case a father kept the children away from their mother for a period of 11 years. The Appeal Court sentenced him to imprisonment for a period of 42 months. The Appeal Court also...

Is child abduction a criminal offence?

Is child abduction a criminal offence?

In the Netherlands it is a criminal act to keep a child from the person(s) who has custody over the child. It is called ‘withdrawal from authority’. This criminal act is described in article 279 of the Dutch Criminal Law. The Dutch prosecutor’s office has written a...

Children’s refusal not accepted

Children’s refusal not accepted

District Court of The Hague, The Netherlands March 26 2020, ECLI:NL:RBDHA:2020:2861 In this case the court does not see any ground for 'refusal', because the children's resistance is the result of the negative image father has of mother and their dependence on father....

One place of habitual residence

One place of habitual residence

Court of Appeal The Hague, The Netherlands April 3, 2019 In child abduction cases, the court must determine where the child had his or her habitual residence immediately prior to his or her removal or retention. Sometimes a child may simultaneously have two places in...

What will the Dutch police do for me?

What will the Dutch police do for me?

If you have a Dutch court decision that says you have a visitation arrangement with your child, the police can help you to get access to your child. The police can be reluctant. If there is for instance a child protection decision that the Child Protection Service has...