If there are international dimensions to a family-related case, in-depth research is required on whether this will have implications for the procedure. The exact contents of a case will determine whether the Dutch Court is deemed competent to handle it. Next, the applicable law should be determined. In some cases, Dutch law may apply to e.g. the dissolution of the marriage, Italian law to the matrimonial property scheme and Dutch law again to any issues related to the children. These are challenging, yet rewarding, cases that can only be handled properly by highly specialized family lawyers. In family law, various treaties and Regulations apply in addition to the general (Dutch domestic) legislation. International private law also stipulates whether court rulings are recognized and can be enforced abroad.
International child abduction
When, after separation, either of the partners wants to take the children abroad, they usually need the other parent’s consent. If that parent objects and the other parent still leaves, this can be considered child abduction, which may have – extremely serious – consequences! The 1980 Hague Abduction Convention may be applicable and quick action should be taken. Moreover, thorough knowledge of the Hague Protection of Minors Conventions (1961 and 1996) and the Brussels II-bis Regulation are indispensable for these cases. Children may also be abducted to the Netherlands from abroad. A return request (interim injunction proceedings with quick appeal option) should always be filed in the country to which the children were taken. Please note that this is a different procedure from the one which determines where and with which parent the children will eventually live: those matters are brought to court in the country where the children have their habitual residence.
Children can be adopted within the Netherlands, for example by a stepparent, yet adoptions can also be international. The first important consideration is whether the child’s country of origin is a party to the Hague Adoption Treaty. In order to give the appropriate legal advice, a lawyer also takes into account the adoption stage: Has the Ministry of Security and Justice already granted ‘permission in principle’ on the recommendation of the Child Care and Protection Board? For cross-border adoptions, this does not mean that a parent automatically gets parental authority, as this depends on whether it is a closed or an open adoption. In short, there are many intricacies involved that require expert legal advice.
Living and working abroad for a prolonged period of time, or living and working in different countries, is becoming increasingly common in today’s globalized society. With these developments, international family law is becoming more important than ever. That is why BSS Familierecht invests considerable time and effort in keeping up-to-date with the latest developments in this field.