How can you prepare child relocation from or within Hungary? What if your child has been relocated without your consent?
Hungary is a member state of the European Union. Council Regulation (EC) No 2019/1111 of 29 June 2019 (Brussels II recast) on jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, and on international child abduction, repealing Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 and the case law of the European Court of Justice on child abduction apply. Hungary is a Contracting State to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the 1996 Hague Convention on Parental Responsibility and Protection of Children as well.
Anita is a lawyer and mediator from Budapest, Hungary.
She is very experienced in the field of international family law. She is a fellow of the International Academy of Family LAW (IAFL) and a supporting fellow of the Academy of European Law (ERA).
She has volunteered to keep this page about Hungary up to date.
Lawyers and mediators in Hungary
We provide a list of lawyers and mediators in Hungary who can assist you in drafting an international parenting plan, in preventing conflicts over the primary residence of the children, and in negotiating and litigating over the children in the event of relocation or child abduction.
Parental responsibility: Hungary
Parental responsibility is referred to in the Fourth Book of the Civil Code of Hungary.
According to Hungarian family law, a minor child shall be subject to either parental responsibility or guardianship.
When the parents are married, they will automatically have parental responsibility for any child born to them from the date of their marriage together. An unmarried father can have parental responsibility if he is registered on the birth certificate, or if the court establishes his paternity.
The concept of parental responsibility – in compliance with the European Union regulation – includes the right an obligation to determine the minor child’s name, to care for and bring up the child, to determine the place of residence and manage the minor child’s assets, as well as the right to appoint a guardian and to exclude someone from being a guardian.
In Hungarian family law there is a presumption of joint parental responsibility, both parents being responsible for making decisions in relation to the welfare and development of the child. Unless otherwise provided by the parents in their agreement, by the guardianship authority or the court, parental responsibility shall be exercised by the parents jointly even if they do not live together any longer.
Joint parental custody means that parents are expected to cooperate, and they must consult and make genuine effort to come to joint decisions regarding their children.
However, when a parent is granted sole parental responsibility in Hungary, they do not have to consult with the other parent on day-to-day issues.
In this case the primary caretaker parent is to decide about everyday issues, and the separated parent shall exercise their parental rights in a limited way: only concerning the substantial matters affecting the future of the child – such as: determining and changing the name of the minor child, determining his place of residence if other than his place of domicile shared with the parent (international relocation), or his place of residence abroad for an extended period of time for the purpose of settlement, changing the nationality of the child, and choosing the school and career path of the child.
A parental responsibility register that would contain judicial decrees on parental responsibility for a minor child does not exist in Hungary.
In the absence of such a publicly available register, parental responsibility shall be considered to be exercised jointly by the parents, unless a court decision or the agreement of the parents on sole parental responsibility is demonstrated.
Traveling with children: Hungary
Traveling outside Hungary with a child is permitted without the written consent of the other parent as long as it is only a holiday or a short-term visit to another country. The traveling parent is expected to share all necessary information with the other parent about their whereabouts, itinerary, accommodation.
For divorced parents, the court can make child arrangement orders prohibiting travel if such an order is in the best interest of the child.
Child relocation: Hungary
Relocation from Hungary to another country
International relocation is considered to be a substantial matter affecting the future of the child, therefore parents can decide about it jointly. If the other parent with parental responsibility does not consent, the parent who wants to move may request permission from the guardianship authority – unless there is an ongoing court procedure on parental responsibility, in which case it’s the court that decides on relocation. When deciding about relocation, the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. The caretaker parent must present certain documents to prove that the maintenance, well-being and education of the child will be ensured, and that the application is realistically founded.
Relocating a child to a different part of Hungary without permission of the other parent or the court is allowed, because the primary caretaker has the right to decide about the child’s habitual residence/modification of the child’s habitual residence within Hungary.
Child abduction: Hungary
Hungary is a Contracting State to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the 1996 Hague Convention on Parental Responsibility and Protection of Children. The obligations that the Conventions create are elaborated in the Act 14 of 1986 on Hague Convention on Child Abduction and in the Act 105 of 2005 on Hague Convention of 1996
Brussel II B regulation, which introduces more detailed rules completing the provisions of the Hague Convention in certain key issues, aiming to standardize the practice of courts dealing with illegal child abduction cases, also applies to Hungary. Its provisions are directly applicable to Hungarian courts, however, since child abduction cases affect not only EU member states, but often third countries, the Hungarian legislator unified the regulations, thus creating Act 62 of 2021 on international judicial cooperation concerning parental responsibility and its implementing decree, the 208/2022 Gov. Decree on the performance of the duties of the central authorities involved in international cases involving parental responsibility
According to Section 4:152 of the Hungarian Civil Code (Family Book) the child can stay abroad for a long period of time independently or with one of his parents, if both parents agree, for example to continue studies, work, or for other purposes. For the child to leave abroad for the purpose of settlement, joint parental permission is required.
(If the other parent opposes the relocation an application may be lodged with the guardianship authority according to Section 24 of 149/1997 Gov. Decree on about the guardianship authorities and the child protection and guardianship procedure. However, if a lawsuit regarding parental supervision is pending, the court will decide on the application.)
Child abduction from Hungary to a Hague-country
The court of the state where the child was taken or where child was retained decides on the return of the child to Hungary.
The Central Authority:
Department of International Private Law, Ministry of Justice,
address: 1051 Budapest, Nádor utca 22.
mailing address: 1357 Budapest, Pf. 2.
customer reception address: 1051 Budapest, Báthory utca 12.
tel. +3617955397, +3617953188
The Central Authority is a first point of contact in Hungary if you aim to apply for a return order. However, it is not mandatory to contact the central authority, the applicant can also apply directly to the court of the state where the child has been abducted to.
If the parent submits the application through the Hungarian Central Authority, a form must be filled out: link to download
The Central Authority also provides the possibility of telephone and personal consultations. The child’s birth certificate, documents proving parental responsibility and the child’s place of residence in Hungary and other relevant documents shall be attached.
The Hungarian Central Authority certifies the Hungarian legislation supporting the illegality of the relocation in the form of a legal certificate for the foreign court. The Central Authority provides for the translation of the documents.
Child Abduction to a non-Hague country
The Hungarian Central Authority may not be able to help to parents if the child is abducted to/retained in a state that is not a signatory country of the 1980 Hague Convention.
In such cases, the parent must apply directly to the foreign court. The enforcement of the decision on parental responsibility may be requested based on the international treaty (if any) or on the internal law of the given state. If there is none, a procedure can be initiated for the return of the child, if this is possible according to the law of the given state. The Consular and Citizenship Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (1027 Budapest, Nagy Imre tér 4., tel: +3614581000, email:firstname.lastname@example.org)
or the Hungarian consulate operating in the given state may be able to provide the parent with some information in order to facilitate legal enforcement abroad. It is definitely worth contacting an international family law specialist.
Child abduction from abroad to Hungary /wrongful retention of a child in Hungary
If a child habitually resident abroad is illegally brought to or retained in Hungary, a decision ordering the return of the child can be requested from the Pest Central District Court, which has exclusive jurisdiction to hear abduction cases to order that the child be returned to that state. The Hungarian courts will refuse to make such an order only on limited grounds set out in the Hague Child Abduction Convention. In relation to EU member states, the Brussels II B Regulation also applies.
Whether the move to Hungary was wrongful must be judged according to the family law of the country of habitual residence of the child.
The parent can apply to the central authority of their country of origin, to the Hungarian Central Authority (Hungarian translation of the documents is required), or directly to the Hungarian court through a Hungarian legal representative. The family law rules of the country of removal regarding parental responsibility must be attached.
If the application is submitted to the Hungarian Central Authority, the authority will take care of the legal representation and the initiation of the procedure. It is also possible to seek for an amicable settlement, the Central Authority will provide a list of mediators participating in family law disputes at the request of the parties. The parties must contact the selected mediator, and they bear the costs of the mediation process.
Apart from the mediation fees, the legal representation in court proceedings is provided free of charge by the Hungarian Central Authority. The expected duration of the procedure is 6 weeks, the case is being heard with priority. An appeal can be filed against the first-instance decision, the second-instance procedure is handled by the Budapest Capital Court.
Based on Article 26 of the Convention, the foreign applicant does not have to bear the costs of the Hungarian court proceedings.
If the Hungarian court orders the return of the child, but the parent does not voluntarily comply with this, the enforcement of the decision can be requested in accordance with the Hungarian enforcement legislation.
Unfortunately the Hungarian Central Authority may not help if the child is abducted from a non-Hague country. In such cases the parent may lodge a claim directly with the competent Hungarian court.
The Central Authority at the Ministry of Justice is a first point of contact if you want your children to return. They will forward your request for the children to return to the other parent and offer mediation. They will give the other parent a deadline to respond. You are not obliged to contact the Central Authority first. You can also choose to go to court immediately.
In Hungary all child abduction cases are heard by specialised courts. In first instance, this is the Central District Court of Budapest (Pesti Központi Kerületi Bíróság). For the appeal this is the Tribunal of the Capital (Fővárosi Törvényszék).
The hearing for the Central District Court of Budapest shall be fixed to a date within 8 days after the receipt of the application. In principle the District Court gives its judgment within 6 weeks. The Court of Appeal can take upto 3 months to make a decision. A special judge has been appointed, who can have judicial communications with judges from other countries if so desired in any case.
In Hungary child abduction cases are heard exclusively by Pest Central District Court. The judgement is usually given within 6 weeks. The appeal can be lodged with Budapest-Capital Regional Court, and the appeal procedure normally takes another 6 weeks.
In Hungary, it is within the court’s discretion whether to hear the child in the procedure. In almost all cases, the child is being heard by the judge personally, unless this is not possible due to their young age. There is no legal representitive (guardian ad litem) appointed in these cases. Requests for the examination of the child by an expert psychologist are usually rejected as the point is not to let he case to be turned to a parental responsibility matter.
Just like in cases concerning parental responsibility, the judge may order in abduction cases that the parties visit a mediator (mandatory mediation) and listen to the detailed information about the advantages of it. During the mediation the court proceeding is suspended but if the parties quit the process without an agreement, the case continues at the court without delay. Mediated agreements can be approved by the court so the settlement will bear judgement effect and will therefore be enforceable.
When any of the parties appeals, the court can be requested to decide that the return decision would be suspended for the duration of the appel, or – at the contrary – that the return decision would have immediate effect. Once the decision is final, enforcement proceedings can be initiated at the Pest Central District Court. Enforcement proceedings may be suspended if enforcement would expose the child to a grave risk of physical or psychological harm due to temporary impediments which have arisen after the decision was given, or by virtue of any other significant change of circumstances – this applies to EU countries (Brussells IIB) and to non-Hague or non-Eu countries as well. Before making such an exepcitonal order, the court would also ask for the opinion of the guardianship authority, thereby collecting more information about the child’s social situation and circumstances.
If you think your child is in Hungary, but you do not know exactly where, the Hungarian Central Authority can help you locate your child.
Criminal law : Hungary
Art. 211 of Act C of 2012 on the Penal Code of Hungary Wrongful removal is a crime only if there is already an enforceable custody order and the person removes the child from the custodial parent, without his/her consent, with the purpose of changing custody permanently. If there is joint custody, wrongful removal by one parent is not a crime.
Wrongful retention is a crime only if there is already an enforceable custody order and the person keeps the minor concealed or in secret from the custodial parent, with the purpose of changing custody permanently. If there is joint custody, wrongful retention by one parent is not a crime.
Once criminal charges have been made, only the prosecutor will determine whether the criminal proceedings are to be withdrawn or suspended.
Relevant websites : Hungary
Permission form to travel with children:
Subsidized legal aid:
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Relevant case law in Hungary
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