Martine Wernsen

Lawyer and mediator
at Versteegh cs Advocaten
0031 (0)70-314 24 15
The Hague
The Netherlands

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Martine has been an lawyer 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 Dutch and English.
Subsidized legal aid is not possible

Relevant experiences and positions

Decision making model

During her work 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 experience are useful in child abduction cases, since that is where those different areas of law intersect.

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.

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 nice 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 guardian ad litem 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

Blogs from

Martine Wernsen

Temporary, but not

Temporary, but not

C (Children) (2018) UKSC 8 United Kingdom Supreme Court 14 February 2018, HC/E/UKe 1453  The mother was to stay with the child in England for 8 weeks. Later, the father agreed to a one-year stay. The court ordered that 8 weeks turn into 12 months The mother and father...

no return during pending asylum application

no return during pending asylum application

G v G (2021) UKSC 9, The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom 19 March 20221, HC/E/UKe 1509 The mother and father live together in South Africa. The child was born in 2012 and had always been habitually resident in South Africa. In 2014 the parents separated. Since 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...