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Cross Border Child Abduction and Access

​​International child abductions have serious consequences for both the child and the left-behind parent. The child is removed, not only from contact with the other parent, but also from his or her home environment and transplanted to a culture with which he or she may have had no prior ties.                                              

The legal instruments deal with civil aspects of child abduction and not the criminal aspects and the aim is to return to the juridical status quo, i.e. the situation before the abduction/retention takes place.

Civil cases refer to the taking of a child from a country to another country from the person who was exercising custody of the child and keeping the child without the consent of the person who was exercising custody.

The Central Authority deals with both incoming and outgoing requests. In the case of outgoing request, Central Authority officials meet with the left behind parent and work on his/her behalf by filling application, gather necessary documentation and communicate throughout the case with the Central Authority of the requested country.

In the case of incoming requests, the Central Authority tries to amicably solve the request by meeting with the abducting parent and if the latter is not willing to send the minor back voluntarily, the Central Authority takes the case to court.

Due to the sensitive nature of the matter, the Hague Convention states that the judicial or administrative authorities of Contracting States shall act expeditiously in proceedings for the return of children and reach a decision within six weeks from the date of commencement of the proceedings.

The Central Authority would request assistance from the Police authorities and at times from Aġenzija Appoġġ at the point of executing the return order or when the nature of the case necessitates such intervention.

The same legal instruments also deal with requests for cross border access to minors. The Central Authority’s role is to facilitate such access and if necessary, represent the parent requesting access in court. The Brussels II bis regulation ensures that access decrees given by the foreign court are applicable in Maltese courts and those decrees given by Maltese courts are applicable in the other European Union countries.

Cross Border Abduction is regulated through the following legislation:
  1. The Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
  2. Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial Matters and the matters of parental responsibility (also referred to as Brussels II bis)
  3. Child Abduction and Custody Act, Cap 410 of the Laws of Malta

Hague Countries and European Union Member States

The Central Authority has no remit with counties which are non-Hague contracting states.

Application and Document Requirements

When child abduction takes place, the left behind parent needs to file an application with the Central Authority within one (1) year from the abduction taking place.

The Convention applies to children under the age of sixteen (16). The Convention ceases to apply when the child reaches 16.

Together with the application, the left behind parents need to provide the following:
  • Passport/identity card number of the abducted minors and abducting parent and if possible, photocopies of the same;
  • Photos of minors and abducting parent;
  • Address where they are thought to be staying;
  • Information on other persons who might be able to supply additional information;
  • Birth certificates of the minors;
  • Marriage certificate (if available);  
  • Any documents which show that the minors were habitually resident in Malta (such as a school statement);
  • Any decisions or agreements made concerning rights of custody or access;
  • Affidavit prepared in front of a notary and signed by the applicant as well as signed and stamped by notary; and
  • Applicable Maltese Law which needs to be certified by a lawyer.

​​Page last updated on 5th May 2020. 

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