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Hague Abduction Convention

posted 2 years ago

Talking point nowadays in Greece is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, also known as the Hague Abduction Convention, that was concluded on 25 October 1980 and entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983.

The objects of the Hague Abduction Convention are to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States.

The Hague Abduction Convention provides that the Contracting States shall take all appropriate measures to secure within their territories the implementation of the objects of the Convention. For this purpose, the Central Authorities of the Contracting Parties shall co-operate with each other (i.e. to exchange, where desirable, information relating to the social background of the child; to provide information of a general character as to the law of their State in connection with the application of the Convention) and shall use the most expeditious procedures available, either if the judicial or the administrative authority has been appointed to this matter.

Let’ s take a look on the most important prerequisites in order to the Hague Convention to be applied:

  • According to article 3 of the Hague Abduction Convention, 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.
  • According to article 4, the Hague Abduction Convention shall apply to any child who was habitually resident in a Contracting State immediately before any breach of custody or access rights. The Convention shall cease to apply when the child attains the age of 16 years.

Crucial matter: Is the Central Authority obligated to order the return of the child forthwith?

According to article 12, where a child has been wrongfully removed or retained in terms of article 3 and, at the date of the commencement of the proceedings before the judicial or administrative authority of the Contracting State where the child is, a period of less than one year has elapsed from the date of the wrongful removal or retention, the authority concerned shall order the return of the child forthwith.

The judicial or administrative authority, even where the proceedings have been commenced after the expiration of the period of one year referred to in the preceding paragraph, shall also order the return of the child, unless it is demonstrated that the child is now settled in its new environment.

Where the judicial or administrative authority in the requested State has reason to believe that the child has been taken to another State, it may stay the proceedings or dismiss the application for the return of the child.

On the top of that, according to article 11, the judicial or administrative authorities of Contracting States shall act expeditiously in proceedings for the return of children. If the judicial or administrative authority concerned has not reached a decision within six weeks from the date of commencement of the proceedings, the applicant or the Central Authority of the requested State, on its own initiative or if asked by the Central Authority of the requesting State, shall have the right to request a statement of the reasons for the delay.

However, according to article 13, the Hague Abduction Convention provides that notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding article, 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.

The judicial or administrative authority may also refuse to order the return of the child if it finds that the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views. The judicial and administrative authorities shall take into account the information relating to the social background of the child provided by the Central Authority or other competent authority of the child’s habitual residence.

We, at VAPLAW OFFICES, having gained over the past years extensive experience and profound subject knowledge on Hague Abduction Convention, are here to assist you. Contact us.

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