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International Child Abduction - The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction ("the Convention"), Child Abduction and Custody Ordinance (Cap. 512) ("CACO")
 

Application for assistance in the return of an abducted child

bullet General principle
bullet When will the Central Authority of Hong Kong assist
bullet How will the Central Authority of Hong Kong assist
bullet Submitting an application
"Request for Return of Child" form
Language

 

General principle

Central Authorities are required to co-operate and assist in securing the return of a child to the place of his/her habitual residence, if he/she has been wrongfully removed to or retained in another Contracting State. An international child abduction usually occurs when a person takes a child to another State without the consent of the person who has rights of custody of the child. Please click here to view the schedule of Contracting States and territories having a Convention relationship with Hong Kong.

The removal or retention of a child is wrongful if -
  • it is in breach of rights of custody under the law of the place of the child's habitual residence immediately before the removal or retention, by reason of a judicial or administrative decision or an agreement between the relevant parties; and
  • at the time of the removal or retention, those rights were actually exercised or would have been exercised but for the removal or retention.

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When will the Central Authority of Hong Kong assist

The Central Authority of Hong Kong will assist in securing the return of a child wrongfully removed or retained to the place of his/her habitual residence if -

You can apply for the return of the child if you have rights of custody of the child at the time of the wrongful removal or retention. "Rights of custody" include rights relating to the care of the person of the child and, in particular, the right to determine the child's place of residence.

However, you should note that the judicial or administrative authorities of the Contracting State or territory where the child is might not order the return of the child under the following circumstances -
  • judicial or administrative proceedings were commenced after one year from the removal or retention and the child is settled in his/her new environment;
  • the applicant for the return was not actually exercising the relevant rights of custody at the time of the removal or retention;
  • the applicant for the return consented to or subsequently acquiesces in the removal or retention;
  • there is a grave risk that the return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation;
  • the child objects to being returned (if the child is old and mature enough to express his/her own views).

After receiving notice of a wrongful removal or retention of a child in the sense of Article 3 of the Convention, the judicial or administrative authority concerned shall not decide on the merits of rights of custody, where there are civil proceedings in progress relating to the child, until it has been determined that the child in question is not to be returned or unless an application under the Convention is not lodged within a reasonable time. A decision concerning the return of a child is also not to be taken to be a determination on the merits of any custody issue. During the negotiation of the Convention, it was considered that custody disputes would be best left to the courts in the place of habitual residence of the child concerned.

For an outgoing case, you may -
  • send an application for assistance to the Central Authority of Hong Kong; or
  • send an application for assistance directly to the Central Authority of the Contracting State or territory where the child is; or
  • directly commence foreign judicial or administrative proceedings (it is advisable to instruct lawyers to represent you in such proceedings).
For an incoming case, you may -
  • send an application for assistance to the Central Authority of the place of the child's habitual residence; or
  • send an application for assistance directly to the Central Authority of Hong Kong; or
  • directly commence judicial proceedings in the Hong Kong courts (it is advisable to instruct Hong Kong lawyers to represent you in such proceedings).

See also the Locating a missing child section.

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How will the Central Authority of Hong Kong assist

If you send an application for assistance in relation to an outgoing case to the Central Authority of Hong Kong and your request fulfils the requirements under the CACO and the Convention, we can help you to liaise with the Central Authority of the relevant Contracting State or territory for assistance in securing the return of the child. Where appropriate, we can also assist in making an application to the Hong Kong courts for a declaration that the removal of a child from Hong Kong or the retention of a child outside Hong Kong is wrongful.

In an incoming case, it will facilitate our work in obtaining relevant information and evidence if you apply to us for assistance through the Central Authority of the place of the child's habitual residence. We will liaise with that Central Authority, and can assist in the relevant judicial proceedings. However, you can also send your application for assistance directly to the Central Authority of Hong Kong. We will assist if your request fulfils the requirements under the CACO and the Convention.

Amongst Central Authorities, appropriate steps will be taken to find the child, to bring about an amicable resolution or to institute judicial or administrative proceedings to secure the return of the child.

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Submitting an application

"Request for Return of Child" form

To submit an application for assistance to the Central Authority of Hong Kong, you should complete and submit a "Request for Return of Child" form (FORM DJ-C30(E)) (click here to download the form in pdf or rtf format, and click here for contact details of the Central Authority of Hong Kong). We also encourage other Central Authorities to use this form in incoming cases, as that will facilitate our work.

To enable us to process your application for the return of a child, please submit a copy of each of the following supporting documents (if applicable and available) -
  • a recent photograph of the child;
  • a recent photograph of the person thought to be with the child;
  • a copy of the marriage certificate of the child's parents;
  • a copy of the divorce decree nisi/absolute of the child's parents;
  • an authenticated copy of the custody or access order (or agreement) relating to the child;
  • a copy of the child's birth certificate;
  • a copy of the child's identity card(s)/travel document(s);
  • a copy of the identity card(s)/travel document(s) of the person thought to be with the child.
You will assist our work by supplying the following information -
  • the legal grounds justifying the request;
  • the place of the child's habitual residence, living arrangements and schooling;
  • the detailed circumstances of the removal or retention;
  • the child's relationship with his/her parents and other immediate and extended family (if relevant);
  • the intention of the person thought to be with the child (if known);
  • any action that you have taken and reasons for any delay (if applicable);
  • any negotiation between the parties (if applicable);
  • the proposed return arrangement;
  • for incoming cases, an affidavit or affirmation from a lawyer that gives evidence that you have "rights of custody" under the law of the place of the child's habitual residence (copies of the relevant court orders and foreign law should be provided).

You should also indicate whether it is likely that the person thought to be with the child may co-operate in returning the child voluntarily or may flee with the child once alerted of your request for the return of the child. If you anticipate that the person will raise a defence, you will assist our work by supplying evidence in advance to deal with the defence.

Please note that the requirement to supply information is not intended to create procedural obstacles but to facilitate the conduct of proceedings in a proper and efficient manner.

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Language

A "Request for Return of Child" form should be completed in English (Form DJ-C30(E)) or Chinese (Form DJ-C30(C)). These two languages are the official languages of Hong Kong. Any communication or document sent to the Central Authority of Hong Kong that is not in English or Chinese should be accompanied by an English or Chinese translation or only where that is not feasible, a French translation. However, if communications or documents in French are sent, it may take longer for us to process your application due to the need to have them translated.

 

Back to topGo to Department of Justice HomepageLast review date: 14 Feb 2017