What to expect in Hague proceedings

What to expect in Hague proceedings (1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction)

If you remove a child (under the age of 16) from the jurisdiction without the other parent’s consent or the consent of the court, this could be abduction. You may find yourself involved in Hague proceedings. So, what are Hague proceedings?

  • Abduction can be when a child is removed to another country or not returned; for example, the child has been retained in another country following an agreed holiday.
  •  The court is involved in determining which country has jurisdiction (the power) to deal with any welfare issues. This is the country whereby the child is deemed ‘habitually resident’.
  • Habitual Residence is where the child is considered to have their strongest roots.
  • An application can be made if the following criteria apply: a) the child is habitually a resident in the country they have been taken from b) the removal or retention of the child has to breach the rights of custody of someone else and c) those rights of custody have been exercised at the time of the move.
  • If a return order is ordered, this does not mean that the court found that it is best for the child to live in that particular country long-term.
  • The main defences to an application are intolerability / grave harm, the child objects to returning, consent or acquiescence, or the child has been in England and Wales for a long time and has settled.
  • Proceedings should conclude within a few months; they are quick because they are summary proceedings.

You should seek advice as soon as is possible whether you are applicant or respondent in these proceedings. Legal aid is available as applicant and respondent.

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