An impression of the interesting and nice lustrum meeting in Antwerpen, Belgium on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Dutch International Child Abduction Lawyers (DIAL), with a reception at the office of mr. Karin Verbist (Adverlat lawyers), with contributions from Child Focus and Dirk de Waele (Attorney General at the Court of Appeal), a tour of the Butterfly Palace (Court of First Instance) including an exchange with a child abduction judge and the Public Prosecution Service (which has a clear role in child abduction cases in Belgium!) and the next day another visit to the newly reopened Royal Museum of Fine Arts. It was a very successful gathering and it is always very useful to exchange ideas and to learn from other countries and share our views with our colleagues from all over Europe.
BBC Child Abduction in Japan
The lawyers of DIAL have experience with many foreign legal systems. When they are unfamiliar with a specific legal system, they have networks to gain knowledge.
This experience is of crucial importance in this field. The starting point is always how a child can benefit from both parents, which in some cases is very difficult.
In Cross Border Mediation, we try to build bridges. Not only between the parents from different countries and their legal systems but also between the different habits and customs.
We always keep the best interest of the children in mind.
Wendy van der Stroom-Willemsen, Lawyer & Cross Border Mediator
Return to the home county with the kids when the love is over?
These days the world is getting smaller and smaller. The amount of people traveling over the globe is increasing as well as the amount of people chasing an international career. Of course the love life of these individuals is not bound to the boundaries of all countries. The amount of international couples increases and children are born from these relationships. Today’s technology enables people to maintain contact with their beloved ones at in their country of origin. The world is at our feet. But what it the relationship does not last? What if the emotional support trough for example FaceTime is not enough and one needs the physical support of the family? Could one parent decide to return to the country of origin with the children?
Based on the Dutch statistics more cases of child abduction and potential abductions have been registered. The amount of abductions has increased over the past years. Only half of the abducted children return to The Netherlands based on the numbers of the Centre IKO.
Even though one could relate to ones motives to return to the country of origin after a relationship has come to an end, is it not always possible to do so.
For international couples it is very important to verify whether the parents exercise joint parental responsibility over their minor children. If they do, the domicile of the minor children can only be changed if both parents agree. If one parent does not consent with a move to another country and the other parent ignores this and takes the children, this is considered child abduction. Please note that it is of the utmost importance to check the applicable law to determine whether joint parental responsibility exists.
An example: an unmarried couple in the Netherlands have a child together. The father acknowledges the child. In the Netherlands the acknowledgement does not establish joint parental reponsibility. The mother will exercise sole parental authority.
The same situation in Belgium has different outcome. By acknowledging the child, the father obtains joint parent authority. The father and the mother will from that moment on exercise joint parental authority.
If one parent has sole parental responsibility, he/she has the right to decide where the child will have her/his domicile. The parent could move to another country without the consent of the other parent. The consequences for the remaining parent could be severe. (Please note that in the Netherlands there is some case law where the court orders the parent with sole parental responsibility to stay in the Netherlands because the other parent could bring the case before a court in time.)
For international couples it is important to make proper arrangements in relation to the domicile of their children for better and for worse. Parents should think about where they would like to raise their children. Furthermore, it is very important to agree on holidays to the county of origin of a parent.
The amount of abductions normally increases in the summer. Often a parent decides not to return after a family visit to the country of origin. The Dutch Police at the airport especially watches out for (single) adults traveling with a minor. For all parents it is very important to agree on the terms of the journey (the destination and the duration of the holiday.) These details and the travel consent could be written down on a standard form (click here for form) provided by the Dutch government.
If you are in doubt about your legal status, the arrangements made or if you fear that your child might not return from a holiday, please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialist lawyers at DIAL.
The Liaison Judge
On Wednesday 17 April 2019, during a meeting of D.I.A.L. Lawyers, the Liaison Judge of the District Court of The Hague gave a lecture about her work as a Liaison Judge.
The Liaison Judge is the connecting link between judges abroad and judges in the Netherlands. The Liaison Judges’ office is a help desk for judges in the Netherlands. If a judge somewhere in the Netherlands has a question about foreign law or of the state of affairs in a foreign Child Abduction Proceedings, he can ask the question via the Liaison Judge in the Netherlands. The Liaison Judge contacts her colleague in the relevant country to obtain the relevant information.
If there are two proceedings in progress in different countries, an Article 15 of the Brussels II bis regulation request can be made to have the cases referred to another court. The court can also do this ex officio.
Among other things, she said that in 2018 34 parental child abduction proceedings were conducted at the District Court in The Hague. Of these cases, 33 attended the preliminary hearings and mediation took place in 11 cases. Of these 11 mediations, five were completely successful and six were not.
In 2018 the return was rejected in only five cases. In two of these cases there appeared to be no kidnapping because there was a mutual agreement, in 1 case there was consent, 1 case was rejected on the basis of Article 13 paragraph 1b of the Hague Convention and 1 case on the basis of Article 13 paragraph 2 of the Hague Convention.
There are currently 10 judges that handle Parental Child Abduction cases judges.
In 2019, only a derivative round case and an ongoing case have taken place so far.
The District Court of The Hague has noticed that the time the abduction cases take longer than intended. This has to do with all kinds of different circumstances, which is undesirable. The six-week period is often not met because one of the parties needs a visa as well for the reason of more involvement of professionals, such as Child Protection and a Guardian ad Litem. The court discusses with the lawyers to see if this can be shortened.
Sometimes a party does not appear in court and that can have all kinds of consequences. For example, mediation cannot be carried out or is difficult, and contact with the left behind parent cannot be facilitated. It is possible to conduct the case via Skype, but due to the time difference this can lead to practical problems.
All in all, the Liaison Judge indicates that the specialized lawyers of D.I.A.L. Lawyers are well aware of the procedures which works well for the court. This makes it easier to come to agreements about the steps that need to be taken. D.I.A.L., as a specialist association, is therefore of great importance for both the litigant and the court.
Seminar and reception hosted by Asime at the Dutch embassy in Madrid
On 22 November 2018, several members of the Dutch International Child Abduction Lawyers (DIAL) attended a seminar at the Dutch Ambassador’s residence in Madrid. Wendy van der Stroom-Willemsen (chair of our association) joined the panel discussion on behalf of DIAL, together with DIAL board members Catelijne Boshouwers and Titia Coppes. Fellow panel members were Christopher Hames (chair CALA UK), Paola Moreschini (chair ICALI, Italy) Hetty Boone (judge international child abduction section District Court The Hague), Luis Aurelio Gonzalez (judge in Madrid) and Judith Uitermark (criminal judge District Court The Hague).
The following matters were the subject of the presentations and the subsequent panel discussion:
- What is meant by (cross border) mediation?
- To what extent is it desirable for mediation to be part of international child abduction cases?
- To what extent is this implemented in cross border child abduction litigation?
- In what way is cross border mediation implemented in these cases?
- We also discussed the do’s and don’ts and the differences and similarities for various countries.
It was a very interesting meeting and a nice gathering. On top of that, it was an excellent opportunity to enjoy the Prado, Thyssen Bornemisza and Reina Sofia museums, the Christmas decorations in town and the delicious Spanish food.
All-in-all a successful and enjoyable trip!