International Child Abduction

German Family Lawyers

International Child Abduction

German Family Lawyers

When children are abducted from the country where they have their permanent residence without agreement and appropriate custody arrangements and are held in a foreign country, this is referred to as an international child abduction. Such a situation always places an enormous emotional burden on both the parent and the child concerned. Not infrequently, the child is traumatised as a result of the abduction.

To ensure rapid and effective assistance in the event of such an international custody conflict, Germany, as a contracting state, has concluded several international conventions. These regulate how authorities and courts are to proceed in detail to obtain the child’s return promptly.

As a multidisciplinary law firm, Schlun & Elseven Rechtsanwälte will support you in such an emergency situation with our expertise and many years of experience and ensure you and your child receive help quickly. Whether it is a matter of family law or immigration law, our lawyers bring their in-depth expertise to bear in all areas of law relevant to resolving your case. If there is a need for legal assistance in criminal law, these cases are covered by our criminal defence lawyer and former public prosecutor Philipp Busse.

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Legal assistance in German Family Law

General countermeasures
  • Comprehensive legal assistance in the return proceedings

  • Application for the return of the child from abroad

  • If necessary, application for sole custody at the family court

Criminal prosecution
  • Criminal complaint | Interpol search

  • Representation as joint plaintiff in criminal proceedings

  • Inspection of files

  • Consultation of witnesses and experts

  • Compensation for pain and suffering | Claims for damages

Prevention
  • Drafting a contact agreement

  • Obtaining an interim order granting the right to determine residence

  • Registering the child with the border authorities

Expertise

International Child Abduction: The Hague Convention

Regarding cases of international child abduction, the central source of global regulation in this area of law derives from the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Germany is a member of the Hague Convention, as are over eighty other countries. Other members include, in particular, all members of the EU, the USA, Russia and China.

The central goal of the Hague Convention is the rapid return of children who have been removed from a contracting state. It is emphasised that the respective legal parameters of the contracting states are to be respected concerning custody regulation.

The following points are to be taken into account concerning the Hague Convention:

  • It only concerns children under the age of 16.
  • Each state has a central authority for issues related to international child abduction. In Germany, this central authority is the Federal Office of Justice in Bonn.
  • The central authorities of the states concerned work together to ensure a fair and equitable resolution of the cases.
  • The applicant can apply to the central authority of any state party to the Hague Convention.
  • The chances of success may be affected if too much time has elapsed, and this delay has resulted in the child settling into their new environment.

Article 19 of the Hague Convention states that an international child abduction case does not address who should have custody of the child. If the parties wish to challenge the current custody status, parties must do this in separate litigation. Cases concerning international child abduction are decided on the question of who had custody at the appropriate time, not on who “should” have custody of the child. This issue is something to bear in mind if you are considering a case involving the return of a child from another country.