How do I arrange my child's return from the Czech Republic to the country where he/she has been living?

In the event that a child is abducted to the Czech Republic, the Office for the International Protection of Children acts as the requested central authority in accordance with EU legislation and the Hague Abduction Convention to receive the request for the return of the child to the country of his/her habitual residence.

A parent whose child has been abducted to the Czech Republic may apply to:
  • request the return of the child through the central authority of the country of his or her residence
  • apply to the central authority of the country to which the child should have been removed, i.e. the Office for the International Protection of Children
  • apply directly to the Municipal Court in Brno (however, the court application must meet the conditions of Czech law)

The Municipal Court in Brno, as the court of first instance, is the only court competent to decide on a return from the Czech Republic to the state of the child's habitual residence. The Court of Appeal is the Regional Court in Brno.

Activities of the Office in the case of the return of a child from the Czech Republic to the state where the child has been living:
  1. The Office receives the application for return from the foreign central authority and checks its particulars. If the application is complete, the Office informs the district court in the district of the child's current residence of the impediment to deciding on the child's custody pending resolution of the issue of the child's return abroad.
  2. The Office contacts the parent in the Czech Republic, and informs him/her of the request for return, the legal aspect of the case, and the possibility for the other parent to file a petition for the initiation of return proceedings with the Municipal Court in Brno. The parent is given the opportunity to comment on the relocation and to suggest further action.
  3. The Office communicates regularly with both parents and the foreign central authority, which informs them about the progress of the negotiations with the parents and the progress of any court proceedings.
  4. Both parents are encouraged and supported to resolve the situation amicably.
  5. The Office is informed by the court of the application for return, and the Office staff attend any court hearings in person so that they are informed of the status of the proceedings. The Office may also be appointed as the child's guardian in return proceedings. In such a case, it shall be a party to the proceedings and shall make submissions to the court and give its opinion on the matter.

The Office cooperates with other state authorities, e.g., with Czech embassies abroad, with the Police of the Czech Republic in ascertaining the actual whereabouts of the child, with the staff of social and legal protection of children and others.

Court proceedings for return in the Czech Republic

The competent court for the proceedings is the Municipal Court in Brno.

The court should order the first hearing within 3 weeks of receipt of the petition; the judgment should be issued within six weeks of the commencement of the proceedings.

The court will decide whether to reject the return application or order the return of the child abroad. The return may be conditional on the fulfillment of safeguards. The return decision does not decide on the custody of the child by one of the parents.

The judgment returning the child to the place of habitual residence shall be provisionally enforceable. This means that the parent who came to the Czech Republic with the child must return with the child to the place of habitual residence immediately after the judgment is handed down (or within the time limit set by the judgment) or hand the child over to the abandoned parent.

During the proceedings, the court may establish supervision over the child's movements, including a prohibition to leave the territory of the Czech Republic without the court's consent, and may also establish a regime of contact with the abandoned parent.

If the parent who has abducted the child does not appear at the court hearing or at least does not make a written statement, the court will assume that the parent has no objection to the return.

Appeals against the return decision

A parent who disagrees with the judgment (with the decision to return or with the decision to reject the petition) may file an appeal to the Regional Court in Brno within 15 days of the delivery of the judgment and may also request a stay of execution of the judgment.

The Regional Court shall review the decision of the court of first instance and may amend or confirm the decision, or it may annul the decision and return the case to the Municipal Court in Brno.

Enforcement of the decision on the return of the child in the Czech Republic

If the child is not returned in accordance with the judgment, he or she may be handed over to the parent seeking a return in the context of the ordered enforcement of the judgment, with the assistance of the bailiff, social workers and the Police of the Czech Republic.

As this can be a traumatic intervention in the child's life, all the authorities involved try to resolve the situation amicably. The court may order a meeting with a mediator or an expert in paedopsychology and may also proceed to the repeated imposition of fines.