International Child Abduction

Child abduction is when a child of 15 or younger is taken to or being held in another country against the will of one of the parents with parental custody.

Child AbductionIn the Netherlands, child abduction still occurs on a regular basis. A special convention was designed for these situations: the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. The basic principle of this convention is that abducted children should return to their normal country of residence as soon as possible.

Impending abduction

If you are afraid that your child will be taken abroad by your (ex-)partner it is important to evaluate your situation first. We will help you investigate at whether merely fear is at stake or whether there is a realistic risk of an abduction. If there is a possible impending abduction many factors are part of the equation. If there are direct indications that your child is about to be taken abroad by your (ex-)partner it is important for you to take action immediately.

Contracting countries – Hague Convention 1980

When your child has been abducted, a number of factors determine your possible actions.

Has your child been taken to a country that is a party to the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention? In that case, the CA, (Dutch Central Authority for International Child Affairs) can submit a legal aid request in order to have the children returned from abroad. In international child abduction cases to contracting countries, the CA is the coordinating organization between the Netherlands and the foreign country.

In the case of abduction to the Netherlands, you can call in the CA to find out if a voluntary return may be possible, or if cross-border mediation may lead to a solution. If this is not the case you can, assisted by a specialist child abduction lawyer, start legal proceedings at the District Court of The Hague in order to determine the return of the child.

The Hague Convention is interpreted strictly by the Dutch judiciary. The court will send the child back, unless the abducting parent successfully appeals on the basis of the convention’s grounds of refusal. This is not accepted easily in The Netherlands. In the Netherlands no distinction is made between an abducted child that resides in The Netherlands from a Non-Hague Convention country and from a Hague Convention country. We treat all incoming requests for return of a child that resides in The Netherlands in the same manner, on the basis of article 2 of the Dutch Implementation Law.

It is not sufficient to seek advice from a general family lawyer, who may not be familiar with this fast evolving area of law, where a wrong step can have far reaching consequences.

Non-contracting countries

You can also call in the CA in the case of abduction to non-contracting countries. An attempt will be made to solve the case via diplomatic channels of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs abroad. The legal issues involved are more complex and requires the help of a specialist.

The child comes first

We recommend contacting the abducting parent, if at all possible, in order to come to a suitable solution together. We can offer assistance in such situations. During mediation, the focus is on the interests of the child and on a permanently positive relationship between the parents and other members of the family.

Abducting the child back is strongly advised against at all times. Not only may this lead to serious emotional and psychological consequences for your child, you yourself will also be faced with negative or legal consequences.

If mediation is not an option we can assist you in proceedings before the special child abduction court in the Hague.

Child abduction specialist

Due to the speed of the proceedings and their specialist nature, a child abduction specialist is highly recommended. It is crucial that anyone wishing to move children or seeking the return of children from one country to another, obtains advice from a specialist in child abduction law.

Alexander Leuftink is LINK Lawyer’s specialized child abduction lawyer. He is a member of DIAL and a registered child abduction lawyer at the International Child Abduction Centre. Alexander is regularly instructed by parents in child abduction proceedings and has instructed on a number of high-profile and widely-reported child abduction cases.

Please contact Alexander via our office in Amsterdam.

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