Parental child abduction
is defined as the “taking, retention, or concealment of a child or children by a parent, other family member, or their agent, in derogation of the custody rights, including visitation rights of another parent or family member.” [Girdner, L. 1994b. Introduction. In Obstacles to the Recovery and Return of Parentally Abducted Children, Final Report, edited by L. Girdner and P. Hoff. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, pp. 1–1 to 1–13.]
What to do if your child has been abducted overseas?
- A Hague Convention application is made, these applications are heard on an urgent/semi-urgent basis generally by way of notice of motion proceedings in the High Court. You may be represented by your attorney, but the proceedings must be approved by the Family Advocate.
- If the two countries involved (one being the country where the child originally resides and the other being the country where the child is physically present) are parties to the Hague Convention it binds the member country to help the parent/person searching for the child.
- The recommended time to complete a Hague case is within six weeks but these cases can be instituted more than a year after a child has been abducted.
- The member country is required to set up a central authority and trace the child in order to secure the child’s safe return. The central authority in South Africa is the Chief Family Advocate.
- The application can only be made when a child is under the age of 16 years.
- An applicant must first prove the prerequisites to High Court that the child was wrongfully removed, and then only will the process start.
In closing, every moment counts in matters of international child abduction. We recommend that should you find yourself in this situation, you contact an experienced legal expert to assist you in the safe return of your child.
We are attorneys that serve clients across South Africa and we are ready to assist you with your legal matters. Contact us for local and reliable representation you can trust.