Child not in the care of parents abroad

The Office is often involved in dealing with the situation of children, usually Czech citizens, who are currently abroad without parents or other caregivers.

These are most often children:

  • removed from their families by the court or social services
  • abandoned by their parents
  • runaways from foster care or institutional care

In all cases, the Office for International Child Protection works closely with:

  • the partner central authority abroad
  • the Czech embassy abroad where the abandoned child is located
  • the local authority for the social and legal protection of children, i.e. the OSPOD

All institutions involved deal with the situation of unaccompanied abandoned children without undue delay, find out information about the child's extended family and about the possibilities of further care for the abandoned child. The options will differ substantially if the child is habitually resident in the Czech Republic or is "at home" abroad.

The child is habitually resident abroad and is now there without proper care

If the child's habitual residence is abroad, e.g. the child was born there to Czech parents, or has lived there together with the family for a long time, has a social and emotional background there (it is his/her "home"), then the further care of the child will be decided by the local courts. The vast majority of jurisdictions respect the principle that custody of a child is decided by the court which is closest to the child and which has the opportunity to find out as much information as possible about the child's living situation, so it must necessarily be the court in the place where the child actually lives.

The foreign court may decide on the placement of the child in the Czech Republic or on the placement of the child abroad.

If the Office is informed that a child is abroad unaccompanied by his or her parents or other caregiver, it will initiate intensive cooperation with the authorities both in the Czech Republic and abroad in order to obtain comprehensive information about the child's situation and the possibilities of further care for him or her. It is also ascertained, for example, whether there are other family relatives in the Czech Republic who could take over the care of the child. The Office seeks to assist in providing information to parents, potential caregivers, embassies, and often courts and child welfare authorities.

The Office therefore always recommends that parents and other persons who wish to care for an abandoned child actively cooperate with foreign courts and child welfare authorities and seek a solution to the unpleasant situation in the place of the child's actual residence. From the Czech Republic's side, support is mainly provided by the embassy abroad (consulate, embassy) and the Office, so always contact these institutions.

The child is resident in the Czech Republic but is currently abroad without proper care

A different procedure will be applied in a situation where the child has his/her usual residence ("home") in the Czech Republic but has found himself/herself abroad without the care of parents or other caregivers (e.g., the child has become lost, the death of a companion, the child has run away, etc.).

All cases of abandoned children abroad should be consulted individually. If you are dealing with a similar situation, contact the Office, which can provide you with more information and discuss with you the options for further action.