International child abduction
A case usually concerns international child abduction if the following criteria are met:
- A child is taken to or retained in a foreign country without the consent of the person who has custody of the child ,
- the child has been habitually resident in Finland, and
- the child is under 16 years of age.
In international child abduction cases occurring between the Contracting States of the Hague Child Abduction Convention, the Ministry of Justice functions as the Central Authority in Finland. Among the Contracting States are almost all European countries, Russia, the United States of America, Japan and Thailand.
If a child has been taken to a country that is not a Contracting State of the Hague Convention you should contact the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (Unit for Consular Assistance).
How can the Central Authority be of assistance?
A child has been taken abroad from Finland
If your child has been wrongfully removed from Finland to another Contracting State of the Hague Child Abduction Convention, you may submit an application for the return of the child to the Ministry of Justice, which functions as the Central Authority. It is recommended that you have a lawyer to assist you in drawing up the application.
The most important task of the Central Authority is to transmit the application for the return of a child to the Central Authority of that country where the child has been taken to. The Central Authority of the state where the child is usually takes all appropriate measures in order to obtain the voluntary return of the child. If voluntary return is not possible, the matter must be brought before a court in the country where the child is.
The Finnish Central Authority provides advice on the application of the Hague Child Abduction Convention, communicates with the foreign Central Authority, requests for information on foreign law where necessary, and is responsible for the translations of the necessary documents. The Central Authority may transmit contact information of foreign 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.
A child has been taken to Finland from abroad
If your child has been wrongfully removed from another Contracting State of the Hague Child Abduction Convention to Finland, you may submit an application for the return of the child to the Central Authority of the state where the child is habitually resident, which then transmits the application to the Central Authority of Finland.
Once the Finnish Central Authority has received the application, it will forward it to an advocate specialised in child abduction cases. The advocate will first find out whether a voluntary return is possible in the case. If not, the advocate shall initiate proceedings in Helsinki Court of Appeal. Helsinki Court of Appeal is the first instance in Finland to deal with all applications for the return of a child.
For further information, please see the brochure International child abduction.
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).
Further information: A list of the Contracting States and other useful information are available on the website of the Hague Conference.
Between the EU Member States (with the exception of Denmark), the 2019 Brussels II a Regulation (also called the Brussels II b Regulation) is applied (Council Regulation (EU) 2019/1111 of 25 June 2019 on jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, and on international child abduction (recast) ).
Further information: The text of the Regulation and the handbook on its application are available on the European e-Justice Portal.
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)
Act on the application of the Council Regulation concerning jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility and the child abduction(454/2022)
The national legislation and the international agreements are available in Finlex Data Bank.