What to do if your child is kidnapped?
These comments are compiled on the basis of the situations without precedent:
- The wife from the Republic of Armenia went to live in the Russian Federation with her child. After two years she is traveling back with her child and after some time is informing her husband in the Russian Federation that she has no intention to return to the Russian Federation.
- A citizen of the Republic of Armenia marries a US citizen. They live together in Italy. After the divorce, the parties decide that the child lives with her mother in the Republic of Armenia and spends vacations/holidays with her father in Italy. Following the annual holidays, the father tells the mother that the child will remain with him.
- The father of the child appealed for help in our legal office, as his ex-wife is going to take away their child out of the country without his consent.
Each and every child has the right to communicate with his/her parents:
The above situations are unfortunately very common and together they raise questions of application of law of a particular state. In connection with the emergence of conflicts when applying various legislations, a uniform procedure to deal with such conflicts has been established. There are a number of international agreements and conventions that determine the procedure of settling international family matters. One of those conventions, to which the Republic of Armenia is party to, is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of 25th of October 1980. Control over the execution of the rules of this Convention lies in the central organs of the State. In the Republic of Armenia that organ is The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia.
We are ready to answer all questions that are associated with the application of the 1980 Hague Convention. Our legal experts are also ready to help you with:
- To make a claim to appeal decisions that are contrary to the Convention, to institute criminal proceedings for unlawful retention of a child;
- To negotiate for the return of the child;
- To understand the peculiarities of the legal procedures on these issues in the Republic of Armenia and in other countries.
It is also important to know that the Convention does not address the issues of determining the residence of the child. On the basis of this Convention, the court can only solve the problem of the return of the child to his/her permanent residence.
On what is an abduction and what to do when and if it happens:
In the Republic of Armenia, one of the parents may leave the country with an underage child, without the knowledge of the other, while in many other countries this is a crime if:
- A child under the age of 16 (sixteen);
- The child was permanently resident in that State;
- Is keeping the child without the consent of the legal representative.
First of all, we must try to understand where the child could be. List of the States that are parties to the Convention can be found on the website – http://www.hcch.net, section – kidnapping. On this site, one may also find a list of central bodies of these countries. Application for return of the child must be submitted to the Central Authority of the State in which you think your child is being held. It is important to apply within one year after the abduction of the child.
If the country in which the child is being held does not participate in the Convention, or participates, but has not yet confirmed the recognition of the Republic of Armenia as a member of the Convention, one may appeal for help or contact:
- The police authority of the State;
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia;
- The central authority of a foreign State for information support.
On finding whether the 1980 Hague Convention applies in your case:
When considering your case, you will be able to point out the provisions of the Convention, if the State which is holding your child is party to the Convention and if at the time of the abduction the child is under the age of 16 (sixteen) years.
If the location of your child in a particular State is not known, you can contact:
- The local Central State Organ, which sends the request to the Central Authority of the State;
- The police authority of that State.
The legal professionals in our company will advise you of the possible ways of solving the problem.
Please call: +374 10 32-02-02 or write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
On what happens after the application to the Central State Organ:
After the local Central State Organ sends a request to the central organ of a foreign State, which specifies the location of the child, the negotiation process begins. More often than not all the issues are resolved at this stage. Negotiations can also take place with the participation of the third party unconcerned, IE: mediator.
Disadvantages of mediation:
- No limitation on time;
- Voluntary compliance agreement, which may be broken;
- Mediation is not recommended if one side accuses the other of violence in the relationship.
Advantages of Mediation:
- The opportunity to discuss a wide range of issues;
- No public disclosure;
- May produce a friendly settlement that supports civilized relations between the parties which is the best solution for the children themselves.
If an amicable agreement cannot be reached, the parent may apply to the court in the place of residence of the kidnapped child. And in case of mediation, or in case of adjudication by the courts, we recommend that you consult a professional lawyer in the field of private international law.
On fearing and/or expecting an abduction:
The abduction of a child often happens unexpectedly. But kidnapping can also be preceded by:
- Changes in behavior of the other parent, an increase in the number of disputes on the education of children;
- In the process of divorce, there were problems regarding the custody of the child. In this case, it is recommended to conclude an agreement on the definition of parental rights and responsibilities;
- One of the parents is planning to move to another country with the child;
- The actual voiced threat of child abduction. The threat does not mean that the kidnapping will certainly occur in the future, yet it is a signal to be cautious and alert.
You can apply to bar an exit of your underage child from the country without your consent, to The Migration Service of the Republic of Armenia.
The Court may decide in favor of the parent who holds the child in another country if it is based and proven by the Hague Convention of 1980:
- The parent who has filed the statement on abduction has not actually performed parental duties (Article 13);
- There is a threat of causing physical, or psychological harm to the child as a result of his/her return (Article 13);
- The child is opposed to return and has reached an age, and degree of maturity when his/her opinion must be taken into account (Article 13);
- More than one year has passed since the abduction and the child has adapted to the new environment (Article 12);
- The return would entail a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the child (Article 20).
The reliability of these circumstances can be established only by the court. According to the legislation of the Republic of Armenia, in such cases, the child may be questioned. If he/she has reached the age of 10 (ten ) years, his/her opinion(s) have to be taken into account, except when it is contrary to his/her own interests.
On should one kidnap the kidnapped child:
There are cases when the parent decides to kidnap the child back. Trying retaliatory kidnapping is primarily endangering the child and others. Additionally, this will create bias with the courts if and when further considering the case. Response kidnapping will not solve problems, but rather aggravate them, and there is an increased risk to the overall mental health of the child.