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Updated : 06/09/2016

family

Child abduction

Your partner has taken your child to another EU country without your consent or against a court decision?

You can launch legal proceedings to have the child returned. Central authorities  can help you take the necessary steps. Search for central authorities responsible for international child abductions .

If your case meets legal requirements, the courts in the EU country where the child was taken to, will decide whether the child should be returned.

Possible exceptions

  • if the child might be in danger in the country where they lived before the abduction
  • if the child is old enough to declare that they do not want to return.

Both you and your child should have the opportunity to be heard by the court during the proceedings.

Reversing a court decision

If you want to try to reverse a custody decision, you must go to court in the country where the decision was taken.

You cannot reverse a decision on custody by abducting a child and having a court in a different EU country make a different custody ruling.

Exceptions

These rules do not apply to Denmark, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

However, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland apply the 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction . Abduction cases involving these countries are treated according to this convention or other international agreements.

Sample story

Making sure custody rights are respected

Irena and Vincenzo lived in Italy for 14 years, but are now going through a divorce. In 2013, an Italian court gave Vincenzo custody of their daughter Alessandra and ordered her to be placed provisionally in a children's home in Pisa. On the same day, Irena left Italy for Slovenia with her daughter.

A Slovenian court recognised the Italian court order and launched the procedure to return Alessandra to her father. But Irena opposed this decision.

The Slovenian court gave Irena provisional custody of Alessandra because placing Alessandra in a children's home in Italy could cause irreversible psychological damage. In addition, Alessandra expressed a desire to remain with her mother during the court proceedings in Slovenia.

Vincenzo appealed the Slovenian court's decision and won. Alessandra was returned to Italy.

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