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Updated : 04/04/2016


Child abduction by parent

If your child has been wrongfully taken by your former partner to another EU country (without your authorisation or in breach of court decisions in the EU country where you and the child live), you can launch legal proceedings to have the child returned.

Central authoritiesбългарски (bg)czech (cs)dansk (da)Deutsch (de)eesti (et)ελληνικά (el)español (es)Français (fr)Gaeilge (ga)italiano (it)latviešu (lv)lietuvių (lt)magyar (hu)Malti (mt)Nederlands (nl)polski (pl)português (pt)română (ro)slovenčina (sk)slovenščina (sl)suomi (fi)svenska (sv) responsible for international child abductions can help you take the necessary steps.

Once the proceedings are launched in the country to which the child was taken, the courts there will order the child to be returned - provided that all legal requirements are met.

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.

In theory both you and your child should be given the opportunity to be heard by the court during the proceedings.

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.

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


These rules do not apply to Denmark or the EEA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

Instead, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland are parties to the 1980 Hague Convention on Child Abduction and abduction cases involving them are treated under 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 2007, an Italian court granted 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.

Citing the best interests of the child, the Slovenian court granted Irena provisional custody of Alessandra, on the grounds that placing her in a children's home in Italy could cause irreversible trauma. Also, Alessandra had expressed her 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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