International Parental Child Abduction and Cyprus

Some governments need to pull their fingers out and start helping like others……

In 2013 alone, more than 500 children were abducted from the UK by one of their parents.

During CARI’s meeting with the FCO back in June 2014, Daisy Organ stated that ‘the system works very well and there had been sixty plus UK children being returned every couple of months, through The Hague Convention’.

CARI has requested the FCO to clarify where they get their somewhat questionable return figures from and 7 months on, we are yet to receive any answer!

The truth is it’s almost impossible to get accurate statistics on parental child abduction. In 2013, the FCO revealed that there had been an 88% increase in the number of parental child abduction cases it had dealt with in less than a decade – from 272 in 2003/4 to 512 in 2011/12. These figures almost certainly understate the problem because they are based only on official police investigations (we think).

The bottom line is those government funded charities and organizations need to spend more of their time in making this world wide epidemic problem more aware. Educating the community and parents in multicultural relationships will go a long way in decreasing the number of children being abducted. Most people in the community do not know what Parental Child Abduction is, unless they have experienced it or know someone who has. Using government funded money to target the direct problem compared to using government funds to travel the world, holding meetings for lawyers does not benefit victim parents and does not combat the issue of educating parents.

International Parental Child Abduction and Cyprus……

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Cyprus is a holiday haven during the warmer months with thousands of visitors often single travellers, who quickly fall in love with someone from another country.

The police in Cyprus, like so many other police around the world don’t seem overly interested in Parental Child Abduction; as it’s just another domestic that will sort itself out. “Sorry, rules are rules”, is the response many of CARI clients get when they approach their governments to request an emergency passport for their abducted child as they need the abductors signature to issue one!! Another disturbing comment being thrown around by particularly the UK Embassies to victim parents is, “if you want to see your children again, you have to move to where they are abducted”……………… Seriously!

When a parent has a return order issued by their government that is all that should be needed for Embassies to issue emergency travel documents. STOP all the red tape bull and help your illegally abducted citizens get home…….

This was one point CARI highlighted in our meeting with the FCO. Their response, “Yes, we will look into this”…………….we will see if things change, we doubt it.

Now, take the Cyprus Embassy in Vienna as an example. On one of CARI’s recoveries of a young Cyprus girl, this embassy opened their doors at 2am on a Saturday morning and issued emergency travel documents for the young girl within 15 minutes. The Embassy staff in 2 different countries assisted each other and CARI, to get this child safely home. Now, if this was to be a UK child as an example, there is no way on this planet for starters the UK embassies (with exception of the UK Consular in Istanbul) would open at that time of morning. You would get, sorry come back at 10am Monday morning, after you make an appointment and we cannot guarantee emergency documents can be given. Other governments are also guilty of this lack of support for their citizens, but from CARI’s experience working worldwide the UK government, which was pointed out to the FCO in our meeting, are the worst we have come across in assisting victim parents.

CARI has recovered children from and too Cyprus. Cyprus is a signatory (since 1994)to the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and as a Member State of the European Union has to abide with several European Regulations that pertain to international child abduction.

Furthermore, domestic legislation has provisions against child abductions and by virtue of the Criminal Code of Cyprus child abduction is a criminal offence.

A specialized Family Court has been established since the 1st of June 1990. However, over the years and due to the rapid increase of the number of the family cases, the number of the Family Courts has increased. To-day, there are operating three Family Courts in Cyprus: the Family Court of Nicosia- Kyrenia, the Family Court of Limassol-Paphos and the Family Court of Larnaca-Famagusta, each of them having local and international jurisdiction, including child abduction cases.

Some things you will need to prove to assist in the possible successful return of your child if taken from Cyprus;

You need to prove that you have at least shared custody for the child, that you have been exercising that custody, e.g. by living in the same house with the child or by having regular visitation with the child if you live separated from it, your child had established residence in your country by living there for at least a few months, the other parent either abducted the child to another country or overstayed an agreed visit to another country without your consent.

How long will it take to have my children returned?

The Hague Convention provides for the immediate return of children that have been wrongfully removed from their home Country. The Convention intends to secure the quick return of the children to their home Country. It also provides that such application for the return of children should be dealt with forthwith and with no delays. Cypriot case law has held that in achieving these purposes the Cypriot Authorities must use quick and simplified procedures. The Contracting State to the Convention dealing with a return application should reach a decision within 6 weeks of receiving such application. The reality is and any parent can confirm this, is that it can take years to have a decision and even then your child may not be returned under The Hague Convention.

Do I need to show who the better parent for my Hague application is?

No. The child abduction proceedings under the Hague Convention are unlike child custody proceedings. It does not matter who is the better parent or who spends more time with the child or anything like this. It is just a dispute about the country in which the child should live. The courts of this country will subsequently have to deal with any arguments about custody, visitation, child support, etc.

One exception to this is if there is a severe physical threat to the child if it were returned to its home country. This is a very rare exception however, which is only met if the parent asking for the return of the child is a homeless alcoholic or something of similar gravity. Furthermore, it should be borne in mind that the wishes of the child may be taken into consideration by the trial judge if the child is at an appropriate age and maturity.

What happens after I win the return of my child?

As the decision is not a custody decision, the abducting parent is free to return to your country with the child that he/she had abducted. The reality is however in 99% of cases of Parental Child Abduction is the abductor, after losing The Hague Convention goes into hiding with the children. This is usually advised by the abductors lawyer as they know all too well that there is NO enforcement of Hague Convention decisions. You therefore do not necessarily win physical custody for your child. This will need to be sorted out in a court in your country, once and if your children are found and returned. Most abduction cases are actually followed by cases for child custody and visitation very swiftly after the return of the child.

Immanent and direct threat of abduction from Cyprus….

If there are specific reasons leading you to believe that child abduction is a real possibility you can apply and secure a Court order that does not allow any travel with the child and requires the deposit of passports with the Court Registrar. Such order will be served at the proper authorities so that the airport and port police will be alerted should there is an attempt by the other parent to travel with your child.

CARI’s experience dealing with Cyprus abduction shows, Cyprus does comply well with The Hague Convention and their government/embassies will go out of their way to assist their citizens who have been abducted to another country. This does not mean and we have not seen any case to or from Cyprus that the children have been returned by the Hague Convention. As in most other cases involving The Hague Convention around the world, there is no government or international bodies out there, that enforce the Hague rulings. This is what CARI does; we assist parents who have won a return through the Hague Convention. With the assistance of local police and authorities, we enforce the order after the abductor decides to ignore the court ruling and decides to go on the run with the abducted children.

Disclaimer:

No information in our post shall be construed as legal advice and information is offered for information purposes only. You should always seek advice from an appropriately qualified and experienced Parental Child Abduction solicitor.

CARI

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www.childabductionrecovery.com

 

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