How can you prepare child relocation from or within Serbia? What if your child has been relocated without your consent?
Serbia is a country in Europe and EU candidate country. For short stays, citizens of Serbia do not need a visa to enter Schengen zone.
Serbia is a Contracting country to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Aleksandar Pavleski is a founder of Pavleski Law firm, a boutique law firm in Belgrade, Serbia.
He is specialised in international family law, such as complex divorce cases, child abduction and child relocation cases.
Aleksandar has volunteered to keep this page about Serbia up to date.
Lawyers and mediators in Serbia
We provide a list of lawyers and mediators in Serbia, 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.
Traveling with children: Serbia
In a case of joint custody, if one parent wants to travel outside of Serbia with the child, he or she needs a written certified permission from the other parent.
If the parent who has the sole custody wants to travel outside of Serbia, he or she doesn’t need any sort of permission from the other parent.
If the parent who does not have the sole custody wants to travel with a child outside of Serbia, he or she needs a written certified permission of the other parent.
If the other parent doesn’t want to give consent, the parent who is planning to travel outside of Serbia may submit request to the court for permission – to obtain preventive measure. In practice, the court will allow this only if there is a visitation model in which a parent has the right to spend time with a child continuously, and he wishes to travel abroad with child for a vacation or for a family visit.
Child relocation: Serbia
When a court is deciding on custody over a child it will state that the residence would be the same as the residence of a parent who has the sole custody, and it will determine the visitation model for the other parent.
This means that the parent who has the sole custody may relocate the child without any consent of the other parent, but only if the relocation will not affect ongoing visitation model. This would be a case when the relocation is within a city. If a relocation would be outside of a city or a country, the parent who wishes to relocate with a child should have permission of the other parent or the court decision in which the relocation will be allowed with possible changes in the existing visitation model.
Child abduction: Serbia
The Central Authority is the first stop if you want your children to return. The Central Authority prefers to communicate with the Central Authority of the applicant’s country to which he or she seeks the child’s return.
During the whole process, legal representation is not mandatory, but of course it is highly recommended. The Serbian Central Authority does not have a list of lawyers who can represent the applicant. The applicant may choose any registered lawyer in Serbia to represent him.
In Serbia, all child abduction cases are heard by the Family Division of the Civil Court. The Court gives its judgment in approximately 6-12 weeks.
In Serbia, there is an automatic right to appeal. Both parties to the proceedings may appeal within 15 days. There are no special appeal processes in Hague return cases. The appeal procedure usually takes a few months.
Judicial or administrative authorities cannot appoint a legal representative to represent the child’s best interests in return proceedings. In practice, children will be heard in the return procedure, but the decision on this depends upon the case (mostly on the age of a child) and is at the discretion of the judge. The child’s views are heard through the Social Work Centre.
Other Serbian proceedings
If proceedings in respect of the child (custody, visitation) have been initiated in Serbia, these will probably be stayed pending until the final order of the competitive court. Request for this may submit both parties, and judge may also decide on this on this ex officio.
Mediation and voluntary return will just be promoted as an option.
A return order will be suspended in the case of an appeal.
The applicant is responsible for making travel arrangements and he is responsible for the travel costs, so there is no financial assistance from the state regarding travel costs.
If there is not a voluntary return, it is necessary to commence enforce procedure.
The applicant can get free legal aid (in any court case, not only family law/abduction cases) from a list of lawyers who participate in this government program. The main conditions are that applicant for subsidized legal aid does not have any income and any assets, and that he/she is in difficult financial situation. If he qualifies for this, a random legal representative will be appointed from the list.
Criminal law : Serbia
Serbian Criminal code made both domestic and international child abduction, as well as preventing the execution of court’s decision a criminal offence.
Acts considered as criminal child abduction with penalties are:
1. Whoever unlawfully retains or takes away a minor from a parent, adoptive parent, guardian, or other person, i.e. institution, to which a minor is entrusted or prevents the execution of a decision by which a minor is entrusted to a certain person, shall be punished by a fine or imprisonment for up to three years.
2. If the act referred to in paragraph 1 of this article is committed against a newborn, the perpetrator will be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years.
3. Whoever prevents the execution of the decision of the competent authority, which determines the manner of maintaining the personal relations of a minor with a parent or other relative, shall be punished by a fine or imprisonment for up to two years.
4. If the offense referred to in para. 1. and 2. of this article was committed out of self-interest or other material motives, or because of this act, the health, wellbeing, or schooling of a minor was seriously endangered, or the act was committed by an organized criminal group, the perpetrator will be punished with imprisonment from one to ten years.
5. The perpetrator of the act from para. 1, 2 and 4 of this article, who voluntarily surrenders a minor to the person or institution to which he is entrusted or facilitates the execution of the decision on the entrustment of a minor, the court may exempt him from punishment.
If he imposes a conditional sentence for the offense referred to in para. 1 to 4 of this article, the court may impose an obligation on the offender to hand over the minor to the person or institution to which the minor is entrusted within a certain period, or enable the execution of the decision by which the minor is entrusted to a specific person or institution, i.e. the decision by which the method of maintenance is determined personal relations of a minor with a parent or other relative.
Websites : Serbia
Serbian Central Authority:
Government page on Child Abduction:
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Case law in Serbia
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