How to ensure contact with a child who lives abroad?

What steps can the Office for International Child Protection take?

The cooperation of many countries around the world in facilitating and securing the right of access (contact) between parents and children has its foundations in Article 21 of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980 Hague Abduction Convention).

The Office will consult with you about your situation and may then:

  • contact the parents abroad directly and offer both parents a space to talk (e.g., online facilitated conversation, mediation, etc.)
  • assist you in completing the application for the right of access under the Hague Abduction Convention and send your application for access rights to the foreign partner authority
  • further communicate with the foreign central authority and find out how to obtain the right of access to the child.

You can download and complete the application for contact here:

What do central authorities abroad usually have to offer?

  • verification of the place of residence of the caring parent and child abroad
  • approaching the caring parent and inviting them to an amicable solution, offering to participate in an out-of-court settlement resolution of the situation
  • finding out about the possibilities of free legal aid
  • if necessary, send a list of lawyers who deal with this issue abroad and with whom subsequently cooperate with the parents, if it is necessary to bring an action before the court
  • assistance with communication between you and the lawyers you can contact abroad.

What do the central authorities abroad not generally do for parents?

  • they do not file a court application on behalf of the parents,
  • they do not give legal advice to the parents, nor can they indicate the success of the procedure,
  • do not represent parents in courts abroad.

Amicable, out-of-court resolution of the situation is encouraged. If such a solution is not possible, in most countries it is possible to seek a court-ordered modification of access (similar to custody or maintenance arrangements).

Suppose it is necessary to initiate court proceedings to modify access. In that case, it is required to find out which court has international jurisdiction, what effect a foreign judgment may have in another country, or how you can participate in court proceedings in another country. For more information on this issue, see here.