Increasing Number of Child Abduction Cases Settled Amicably

In an increasing number of child return requests in cases of international child abduction to the Netherlands, the issue is being settled amicably between the parents. State Secretary of Security and Justice Teeven reports this in a letter sent today to the House of Representatives.

In November 2009 the ‘accelerated procedure’ pilot was started to shorten the processing time of return procedures in cases of international child abduction.

If a child is taken to another country by one of its parents illegally, this constitutes ‘international child abduction’. The District Court of The Hague, the Central Authority and the Centre for International Child Abductions participated in this pilot, aimed at reaching an amicable settlement between the parents by mediation in the shortest possible period of time. After all, a quick decision is in the best interest of the child. In this pilot the processing time of the procedure is restricted to not more than 18 weeks. Previously, these procedures could sometimes take more than a year.

Figures of the Central Authority show an increase of the number of abduction cases that were settled amicably. The number of incoming abduction cases settled in this way doubled in the period 2008 to 2010 (from four to eight). In addition, the number of cases settled in court decreased from twelve in 2008 to seven in 2010.

State Secretary Teeven wants to gradually decrease the number of incoming cases settled in court and increase the number of cases settled by mediation. The pilot to accelerate procedures has contributed to this by putting the emphasis on mediation. In addition, the pilot review conducted by the Verwey-Jonker Institute showed that parents are, in general, content about the accelerated procedure. This was also the case where mediation did not result in a full or partial settlement, because it did often result in parents being ‘on speaking terms’ again. Therefore, State Secretary Teeven is positive about the results of the pilot and has already officially implemented the accelerated procedure.