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.