Organising and securing the exercise of rights of access under the hague convention on international child abduction
A child has the right to keep in touch and spend time with the parent with whom he or she does not reside also when the parent resides abroad. If there are problems in the realisation of the contacts and the exercise of right of access, a parent may request for the assistance of the central authority. In general, the court of the child’s state of habitual residence makes the decision on the right of access.
How can the Central Authority be of assistance?
Cases concerning right of access abroad
When a child resides abroad, you may submit an application to make arrangements for organising or securing the effective exercise of rights of access to the Central Authority in Finland. The Central Authority transmits the application to the Central Authority of the foreign country in question. The receiving Central Authority must try to reach an amicable settlement between the parents either on its own or with the assistance of another competent body. If a settlement is not reached, the parent may take the matter to a court of the child’s state of habitual residence. The Central Authority of the other Contracting State does not usually initiate court proceedings in the case. The Central Authority may transmit contact information of local advocates to the applicant, but the applicant himself or herself must pay for the legal expenses. In some countries, it is possible to receive legal aid.
Cases concerning right of access in Finland
When the Finnish Central Authority receives a request concerning the exercise of right of access from abroad, it usually requests for executive assistance from the municipal social welfare services, which then contact the parent residing in Finland. The social welfare authorities shall take all the possible measures to try to reach an amicable settlement between the parents. If settlement is not possible in the case, the parent residing abroad is provided with contact information of the legal aid offices and the Finnish Bar Association to enable him or her to initiate court proceedings in Finland, if he or she so wishes. The Central Authority will not bring the case before a court. The Central Authority may also provide advice on how to apply for legal aid in Finland. The services of the social welfare authorities are free of charge.
Relevant legislation and treaties binding on Finland
Finland has acceded to the Hague Child Abduction Convention (Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Treaty Series 57/1994).
Related national legislation:
Act on Child Custody and Right of Access (361/1983)
Act on the Enforcement of a Decision on Child Custody and Right of Access (619/1996)
The national legislation and the international treaties are available in Finlex Data Bank.
Legal Adviser Maija Leppä
Legal Adviser Hanna Rantala