Child Abduction

Child abduction is the unauthorized removal of a child from the custody of the child's natural parents or legally appointed guardians. If the child has been wrongfully taken by separately living parent to another country (without authorization or in breach of court decisions), the left behind parent may consider launching special legal proceedings to have the child returned.

The removal or the retention of a child is to be considered wrongful where – a) it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the state in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention; and b) at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.

Any person, institution or other body claiming that a child has been removed or retained in breach of custody rights may apply for the return of the child. General rule is that the judicial or administrative authority concerned has to reach a decision within six weeks from the date of commencement of the proceedings on child abduction.

The judicial or administrative authority of the requested state is not bound to order the return of the child if the person, institution or other body which opposes its return establishes that – a) the person, institution or other body having the care of the person of the child was not actually exercising the custody rights at the time of removal or retention, or had consented to or subsequently acquiesced in the removal or retention; or  b) there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.

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