How do I get my child back if they’ve been abducted to a foreign Country?
There are a number of steps to take and we outline some of the most vital steps below. It is the hardest thing to have your child or kids abducted and then to have to fight to get them back but there is a very specific and effective way to do it. Give us a call for a free consultation and we’ll be glad to explain the process.
The First Steps in Dealing with an International Child Abduction
Although you can never guess that someone will abduct your child there are many things you can do when faced with a recent international abduction of your child.
You are hurt, angry, confused and worried about what to do, what will happen and will you ever see your child again. These are normal feelings for any parent who has had their child or children taken from them.
Although many of these emotions will remain with you throughout the process you will be best served (and your children as well) by doing the following:
Be strong, get going, become informed and get the process to have your children returned to you started as soon as possible.
Preparing Your International Child Abduction Case
The following things are vital to your case as the wrong move may cause your case to be lost.
The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which governs abductions to Italy (as Italy has signed and ratified the treaty) clearly states that you must have been exercising your custodial rights at the time of the abduction as well as that you must not have consented to or acquiesced to the abduction.
The abductor will most often say anything they can to win their case including that you had an “agreement” or that you “weren’t taking care of your child” or that you “were fine with them taking the child” or even far worse, that you “are a harm to the child”.
It is vital that you never give your consent to the abduction after it happens and if you provided only permission for a temporary leave that you have this information clearly documented. Although the burden of proof is on the abductor it can at times be necessary or beneficial to clearly show the court that the other side is not telling the truth.
Often just filing The Hague Convention application is enough to show that you have not acquiesced however it is important that you don’t give them permission to remain.
It will also be important to show that you had been exercising your right of custody prior to the abduction by showing that you provided for food, money, clothing, schooling, medical care and that you visited or lived with the child, among other things.
It will also be important to amass what evidence you can about the behavior of the taking parent towards the child, such as any issues they had with alcohol, drugs, abuse of you or the child, criminal history, receipt of medical treatment (especially for psychological or psychiatric reasons).
The courts can refuse to return the child if the abductor can show that there is a “grave risk” if the child is returned or that it will be returned to an “intolerable situation”. In most cases the abducting parent will make up stories of how the left-behind parent was a vicious abuser of the taking-parent, of the child or children or was a criminal or a drunk or a drug user. I will be important for you to obtain any records against the abducting parent as well as any police reports or medical reports that stem from claims they make against you or which you have made against them.
The Costs of Fighting a Hague Abduction Convention Case
Although the Hague Convention states that all court costs must be paid by the State to which the application is made, there will be many other costs which are not covered, which will be on you. These can include hiring a private detective to locate your child as well as costs for the translation of documents, and if you plan to come to Italy there will be expenses for travel, lodging and living.
As the court will be hearing the case in Italy (primarily in the Italian Juvenile Court) located in the area where the child is to be found, the language of the court will be Italian and you must have an Italian attorney who is authorized to practice law as your legal counsel.
You can choose to not hire an attorney but you will then leave it up to the State Prosecutor to prosecute your case and they can change with each court hearing! To have solid representation by an experienced Italian Hague Convention attorney is vital to winning these cases. Often times the judges (there are four in Italian Hague Convention courts) may not be familiar with the Hague Convention, having never tried one or having no real knowledge of the Convention or its terms. Also, as this will be held in Juvenile Court, the judges are used to trying cases involving custody so they often lead with “the best interests of the child” which is contrary to the Hague Convention itself. This is why it is vital for an attorney who knows bot the Italian courts and the Hague Convention to represent you because they can actually inform the court as to the necessary differences between custody and Hague precedings.
According to the Hague Convention each Member State must have a Central Authority to handle such cases. Click here to find yours: https://www.hcch.net/en/states/authorities
Although you can also file your application through any member State’s Central Authority and even directly to the Italian Central Authority.
This is a short list of the ways in which to prepare and the things that you should be prepared to expect.
For more information contact Mike for a no-cost consultation. We have tried many Hague Abduction cases, including Appeals and we have NEVER LOST. We have helped return many children to their States of habitual residence and we’re very proud of that fact.
Call Mike Della Bella now:
Tel.: +39 06 45478189
Fax: +39 06 85300794
(Remember to check your time zone when calling!)
If you prefer you can email Mike and leave the best phone number and time to call. He’ll call you directly: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org