Sottrazione verso l’estero di un minore residente in Italia

Practical information - What to do when a child habitually residing in Italy is wrongfully abducted to or retained in a foreign country

 

WHERE

 

The Italian Central Authority for the implementation of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the following:

Bureau II of the Head of the Department for Youth and the Community
Via Damiano Chiesa n. 24
00136 Roma
Italia
Tel.: (+39) 06 68188.326/331/535
Fax: (+39) 06 68808085
E-mail: autoritacentrali.dgm@giustizia.it
Certified email: ucd2.dgm@giustiziacert.it(to use only within Italy)
Please take note that we receive by appointment only.

 

WHAT TO DO

 

If you suspect that a child may be subject to international abduction:
Always take immediate action to try and prevent it. Therefore:

  • Refuse to give your consent to the issue of an ID allowing the child to travel abroad;
  • When the child’s ID is already valid to travel abroad, ask the nearest Police Headquarters to revoke such authorization;
  • If you suspect that a child may be taken to a country requiring a VISA, notify this country’s Embassy in Italy your opposition to a VISA being issued on the child’s name;
  • If the child is to travel abroad with his/her other parent, get the latter to sign an undertaking (including before a witness, if necessary: Notary, lawyer, Embassy officer…) to bring the child back on the agreed date;
  • If no separation, divorce or custody proceedings are underway at present, ask immediately the competent judge to issue an interim order prohibiting the child’s expatriation without the explicit and formal consent of both parents;
  • If separation, divorce or custody proceedings are underway at present, ask immediately the competent judge to issue an interim order prohibiting the child’s expatriation without the explicit and formal consent of both parents as well as a final decision clearly establishing the child’s place of habitual residence in Italy and prohibiting the child’s expatriation without the explicit and formal consent of both parents (or of the non-custodial parent, in the event that the child’s custody be granted with only one parent);
  • If a separation, divorce or custody decision has already been made, try and obtain, if possible, that such decision and/or the prohibition to the child’s expatriation without the formal consent of the non-custodial parent be recognized in the other parent’s country of origin;

The following actions are always recommended and appropriate when the child’s parents have different or multiple citizenships:

  • find out and keep records of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of relatives and acquaintances of the other parent in the country of origin;
  • keep good relations and contacts with the other parent’s relatives and acquaintances in the country of origin: they might turn out helpful when searching for the wrongfully removed child;
  • keep updated with laws on custody and access rights in force in the other parent’s country of origin.

After abduction:

  1. if the country where the child was abducted to and is wrongfully retained in at present is a Member State of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and Italy has accepted its accession and ratification, cooperation between the two countries can be sought pursuant to this Convention. Please check the updated list of the current state of ratifications and acceptances
    If 1980 Hague Convention can be applied, you should:
    • Immediately contact the Italian Central Authority to commence the relevant return proceedings and carefully fill in the forms you will receive;


      Please pay attention to the following advice!
      1. Make an effort to remember all the addresses to which the abductor may have taken the child and the names of people who may be somehow involved in or aware of the abduction;
      2. You will be requested by the staff of the Italian Central Authority to submit a number of documents attesting that the child was actually residing in Italy at the time of abduction, such as: certificates of residence, of family status, of school attendance, of extra-school activities attendance, of all the vaccinations the child received in Italy, a declaration of the child’s paediatrician proving ongoing healthcare, and so on…;
    • Cease any self-help strategies to fix the problem on your own, especially if such attempts turned out unsuccessful in the past or the abductor repeatedly postponed the child’s return to Italy, despite any previous agreement. Time wasted this way could work in the abductor’s favour! In fact, return proceedings prove more effective when commenced within one year from the child’s abduction or wrongful retention;
    • Consult with a lawyer you trust to decide whether or not immediately institute custody proceedings in Italy;
    • If a separation, divorce or custody decision has already been made, consult with a lawyer you trust to decide whether or not have such decision recognized in the country the child was abducted to.
    • Decide whether or not to file a complaint for international child abduction to the judicial police; if you decide to do so, you must specifically request that your complaint and the child name be entered into the SI.RE.NE and INTERPOL Information Systems.
  2. If the country where the child was abducted to and is wrongfully being retained in at present is not a Member State of the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and/or Italy has not accepted its accession and ratification, please be aware that the Italian Central Authority is not entitled to act. In this case, the left-behind parent should apply directly to a local attorney who will seize the competent judicial or administrative authorities of the country where the child was abducted to.
    In this case, it is highly recommended to contact also the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation at the following address:
    Direzione Generale per gli Italiani all’Estero e le Politiche Migratorie
    D.G.I.E.P.M. – Ufficio IV
    Piazzale della Farnesina, 1 - 00136 Roma
    Tel.: (+39) 06.36913900-2932
    Fax: (+39) 06.36918609
    E-mail: dgit4@esteri.it
    Certified mail: dgit4@cert.esteri.it
    Bureau IV of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Directorate-General for Italian citizens abroad and for Migration Policies is entitled to take measures – through its local diplomatic and consular services – to protect the interests of Italian citizens involved in cases of international child abduction.
  3. When neither the abducted child nor the left-behind parent is an Italian citizen, it is highly recommended to apply to the diplomatic services of their country of origin.

 

â–ºFIRST CONTACT form (pdf, 56 kb)

 

FAQ


Is there a deadline for submitting an application to the Central Authority?
The 1980 Hague Convention does not provide for a time limit to commencing return proceedings to the country of habitual residence, on behalf of an abducted child. However, according to the Convention the Judge of the requested country where child has been abducted to may not order the its return when the application was filed over a year after the child’s abduction and it was established that the child has settled down into the new environment. It is therefore recommended that you commence procedures as early as possible.

 

How do I find out whether the State to which the child has been abducted has ratified or not the 1980 Hague Convention?
Please check the updated list of the current state of ratifications and acceptances
The Italian Central Authority can also provide for additional information.
What should I do if a child has been wrongfully taken to or is being retained in a non-Member State to the 1980 Hague Convention or its membership was not accepted by Italy?
If the State to which the child has been abducted to or is being wrongfully retained has not ratified the 1980 Hague Convention (or its membership has not been accepted by Italy) and if the parent and/or child are Italian citizens, you must contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, General Directorate for Italians Abroad and Migration Policies D.G.I.E.P.M. – Bureau IV – tel. 06.36913900-2932, fax 06.36918609, e-mail: dgit4@esteri.it, PEC: dgit.04@cert.esteri.it).
If neither the left-behind parent nor the abducted child is an Italian citizen, you should contact your country’s Embassy.

 

What should I do if I don’t know where the child has been taken to?
If you don’t know where the child has been taken to, you should file a complaint with the nearest police office and ask for the child’s name to be entered in the SI.RE.NE and INTERPOL Information Systems: this will allow to start investigations at an international level to locate the child and the abductor.
Should you always contact the Central Authority for cases of international abduction?
The person reporting abduction may either apply to the Central Authority or apply directly to the juridical or administrative authorities in the State to which the child has been taken or is being retained, pursuant to Section 29 of the 1980 Hague Convention.

 

How much do return proceedings cost?
Assistance offered by Italian and foreign Central Authorities is totally free.
Court proceedings are free in those States where they are instituted by public bodies (such as Public prosecutors, Attorney General, Legal Services of Central Authorities, etc.).
In those States where you are requested to personally take legal action, you have to appoint and pay your own lawyer. However, you may petition for Legal Aid, which will be granted if you are eligible according to specific requirements (applications are mainly means tested) established by domestic legislation of the requested country.

 

Do I need to retain a lawyer to file an application with the Italian Central Authority?
No, you do not need a lawyer to apply to the Central Authority in Italy.

 

Do I need to retain a lawyer in the State where the child has been abducted to?
No, you are not requested to retain a lawyer in those State where legal proceedings are instituted by public bodies (such as Public prosecutors, Attorney General, Legal Services of Central Authorities, etc.).
On the contrary, in those States where you are requested to personally take legal action, you will have to retain a private attorney.

 

How do I find a lawyer in a foreign State?
In some Member States the Central Authority may provide for a list of lawyers willing to represent and assist foreign applicants in Hague proceedings. Italian Embassies abroad may also indicate the contact references of some law offices, although merely by way of information.

 

When the abducted child’s custody had been granted to Welfare Offices, who is entitled to apply for its return?
When the competent court grants a child’s custody to the local Welfare Office, it usually does so with the intent to support and supervise the child’s family; however, this does not mean that parents will forfeit their custody rights or parental responsibility. In these cases, the left-behind shall file a return application on behalf of its removed child.
When custody decision is more incisive (for example, when the child is also placed in a foster house or community), the custodial Welfare Office shall apply for the child’s return. At any rate, detailed circumstances should be assessed case by case.

 

When a return decision is made, will the abducting parent have to return to Italy, too?
Return decisions only refer to children. If the abducting parent does not intend to return to Italy as well, the child will have to be actually handed out to the left-behind parent.

 

When a return decision is made, who has to bring the child back to Italy? And who pays for travel?
Return decisions often indicate the relevant terms of their enforcement explicitly. However, you are recommended to be cooperative with authorities during the enforcement phase that is often a very delicate and conflictual process.
Sometimes return decisions also establish who is to pay the travel costs; however, in this case too you are recommended to be ready to bear such costs in order to avoid that disputes regarding this aspect may delay or even thwart the enforcement of the child’s return.

 

I had been granted my child’s sole custody. What use is such a custody decision now that my child has been abducted abroad?
When you were granted sole custody decision, you are entitled to institute civil proceedings abroad to get its recognition and enforcement in the requested foreign State. Please note that such proceedings fall without the scope of the 1980 Hague Convention and the Italian Central Authority is not entitled to assist you with this respect.

 

Once a child has been abducted, is it recommended to apply also to the Italian juridical authorities besides filing a return application with the Central Authority?
Return decisions aim at restoring the situation existing before the child’s abduction. Hence, when a return decision is made and enforced, the same situation prior to abduction is restored (including parental joint custody over the returned child, if that was the case).
Custody decisions fall under the sole jurisdiction of the courts in the child’s State of habitual residence: the left-behind parent may decide whether or not to start separation or custody proceedings or ask the competent court to amend custody provisions established prior to the child’s abduction.

 

What are the chances that a return application be granted and how long will it take?
The outcome of Hague proceedings cannot be foreseen. The legitimacy of each claim shall be assessed by the competent juridical authorities.
As to the time needed, the 1980 Hague Convention provides for expeditious proceedings (no longer than six weeks); such provision was upheld by Regulation (EC) n° 2201/2003 of the Council of 27 November 2003). However, in reality proceedings can last longer, sometimes even much longer.

 

Since the child was removed abroad without my consent, I am prevented from meeting him/her or speaking to him/her on the phone. What can I do?
Most Member States allow to apply for provisional child/left-behind parent’s contacts, pending the local court final decision.

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