International Instruments for Dealing with Abducted Children

Three important international instruments

There are three provisions that have been put in place for the protection and safe return of abducted children that apply internationally:

  1. The Hague Convention

  2. Brussels P Regulations

  3. European Convention

This article examines The Brussels P Regulations and The European Convention:

Brussels P Regulations

  • This regulation came into force March 1st 2005 and applies between all EU member states except Denmark.
  • The Brussels Regulations takes precedence over the European Convention and in a situation regarding child abduction between member states, this is the regulations that should be applied first.
  • The Brussels regulations are broader that the Hague Convention and you need either a court order such as a section 8 order for the UK, or a legal document showing previous legal dealings in respect of the child.
  • As the Brussels P Regulations are regulations they are automatically binding on all member states that are signed up to the European Union.
  • The Brussels regulations preserves the Hague convention in relation to dealing with application internationally but instructs the Hague convention on how it should be applied in situations regarding member states of the EU.

Relevance to Abduction cases

  • Art 11- Regulates how courts should operate in return applications made under the Hague convention and what should happen if the return of a child is refused
  • Art 10 – Provides rules in cases of wrongful removal or retention
  • This provides that the courts of the child’s habitual residence retains authority until the child acquires a new place to live in another member state, AND where there is a new place of living either; 
  • Each person, or body with rights of custody has consented to the removal or retention or the child has lived in the new member state for at least a year since the person with custody has found out about the child’s location and the child is settled in their new environment and either no request has been made for the child’s return or the case has been closed or the return has been rejected.  

Recognition and Enforcement under Brussels P Regulations

Any orders that are made relating to parental responsibility in the member state where the child originally lives are enforceable and automatically recognised throughout all the contracting member states of the European Union without the need to make special measures. 

Regarding the enforcement of orders, there is generally the need for a declaration of enforceability , which in the UK means that you have to register the judgment made in relation to the order you wish to enforce.

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For more information on:

  • European Convention
  • The Refusal to enforce an order
  • Order in which the international instruments shall be used 
  • Non-Convention Countries
  • Section 8 orders