Will you get a return order?

Find out what your chances in court are before you start the procedure.

8 questions

Using this questionnaire, you can quickly see if there are opportunities to obtain a return order and/or what defenses are possible.

Of course, this list only gives an overall impression and further research is required before you can make a final decision on what procedure to pursue.

The 6 defences

Decision making model

There are six main grounds for the court to refuse the requested return order. They are not all equally likely to be raised.

  1. The requesting parent was not exercising custody rights
  2. The requesting parent consented to or acquiesced the move
  3. The child is of sufficient age and maturity and objects to being returned
  4. The child is well settled and procedure started only after one year
  5. Grave risk of physical of psychological harm if the child is returned
  6. Fundamental principles relating to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms do not permit return of the child.

They are based on the grounds of refusal as mentioned in articles 12, 13 and 20 of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. A return order may be denied because of the presence of one of these grounds for refusal.

Every country has it’s own case law on these defenses.

Please note that there are also other defenses possible:

  • the Convention cannot be evoked (not a member to the Convention)
  • the child is 16 or older
  • the requesting parent does not have (joint) custody
  • the habitual residence has already changed to the new state.


    For a number of countries, we provide a brief description of how the law in that country deals with cases of international child abduction.


    Find a lawyer or mediator

    For a number of countries, we provide a list of lawyers  who can assist you starting a procedure to ask for a return order.