International Child Abduction FAQ2020-06-17T14:33:38+02:00

Frequently Asked Questions

International Child Abduction

Is child abduction a criminal offence?2020-05-22T19:49:12+02:00

In the Netherlands it is a criminal act to keep a child from the person(s) who has custody over the child. It is called ‘withdrawal from authority’. This criminal act is described in article 279 of the Dutch Criminal Law.

The Dutch prosecutor’s office has written a guideline about what kind of punishment it will demand in criminal cases about withdrawal from authority. You can read this guideline on the website of the government. The fourth category of cases refers to international child abduction.

In 2019 the Dutch Appeal Court in The Hague has imposed a sentence to a father for international child abduction. He was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of 42 months. He had taken the children from the mother when they were 3 and 8 years old. After that he had taken them to other locations and had changed their names. As a result the mother did not know where the children were for a period of 11 years. You can read this decision on the website of the Dutch courts.

What if the child is taken to another country during the procedure?2020-06-03T21:28:11+02:00

Article 12 of the Convention tells that if the court has reasons to assume that the child has been taken to another country, it can suspend the proceedings or deny the request. The transfer of the child to another country will not change the habitual residence of the child.

What is International Child Abduction?2020-05-22T20:28:58+02:00

There are two different ways in which a parent can abduct the child.

The first is by taking the child to another state without the consent of the other parent. This is only the case if the other parent has (joint) custody over the child.

The other is by not returning the child to the home state, without the consent of the other parent. Again, the other parent must have (joint) custody, to make this a case of international child abduction. This kind of abduction can happen for instance after spending a holiday in another country.

What will the Dutch police do for me?2020-05-05T10:04:46+02:00

If you have a Dutch court decision that says you have a visitation arrangement with your child, the police can help you to get access to your child. The police can be reluctant. If there is for instance a child protection decision that the Child Protection Service has (part of) the custody, they might refuse to enforce the decision.
You can consider making a report of a criminal offence by the other parent. In the Netherlands emotional abuse (coercive control) is not a criminal act. (In the United Kingdom, Wale, Schotland, Ireland, Australia, New Sealand and the United States it is a criminal act.)
You can report:
– Keeping the child from your custody / withholding you access to your child
– Keeping the child from school without reason
– Defamation or slander
Reporting the criminal offence can lead to new information, through the assistance of the police. We can also ask for a copy of all police registrations involving your child. And off course the Dutch prosecutor will make a request for international legal aid when necessary.

Which countries have signed the Convention?2020-06-12T13:47:15+02:00

U can see which countries have signed The Convention and the date on which they did on the website of the HCCH :
The HCCH made a spreadsheet showing acceptances of accessions to the Child Abduction Convention:
The Convention is by definition in force between all the States that have ratified the Convention.
If a State has become a member through the accession procedure of art. 38 of the Convention, but has not ratified the Convention, you must check if the other State has accepted the accession of the other state. If one State has acceded before the other State, the first State must accept the accession of the second State.
If the home country of the child is not a member, but the country where the child is currently staying is a member, you can still use the Convention and ask for a return decision in the country where the child is staying.
The U.S. State Department keeps track of countries that enforce the Convention and maintains a similar website:
So you will have to check the date of accession, date of ratification and possible acceptance of the accession to find out if there is a treaty basis between the two countries.

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