Abduction from the Child Welfare Services

When the Child Welfare Services have taken over care of a child, it will be considered wrongful child abduction to travel to another country with the child without the consent of the Child Welfare Services.

When the Child Welfare Services have taken over care of a child, it will be considered wrongful child abduction to travel to another country with the child without the consent of the Child Welfare Services.

Under the Hague Convention, the rights of custody may be attributed to an institution or other body, cf. Article 3 (1) a) of the Hague Convention and Section 11 (2) a) of the Child Abduction Act. The rights of custody may arise by reason of a judicial or administrative decision; cf. Article 3 (2) of the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention defines parental responsibility so that it includes the rights relating to the care of the person of the child and, in particular, the right to determine where the child shall live, cf. Article 5 a) of the Hague Convention.

Under Norwegian law, it will wrongful to take the child out of the country without the consent of the Child Welfare Services if one of the following decisions has been made:

  • Issue of a care order and possible deprival of parental responsibility, cf. Sections 4-12 and 4-20 of the Child Welfare Act.
  • Ban on relocating when the child is living away from home, cf. Section 4-8 of the Child Welfare Act.
  • Placement and retention in an institution without consent, cf. Section 4-24 of the Child Welfare Act.
  • Temporary rulings in emergency situations under Sections 4-6 (2), 4-9 and 4-25 of the Child Welfare Act.

There is no requirement that the decision is final or legally enforceable. However, there is a requirement that there is a valid decision. Pursuant to Section 4-13 of the Child Welfare Act, a care order will lapse if it is not implemented within six weeks of the date of the decision. The head of the county social welfare board may extend the time limit when special reasons justify doing so. If a child is taken to another country before the care order has been implemented, it is important that the Child Welfare Services submit an extension request to the county social welfare board, cf. Section 4-13 of the Child Welfare Act, as soon as they are aware of the child abduction.

If a care order has been issued, it is also an offence to keep child away from the Child Welfare Services, cf. Section 216 of the Norwegian General Civil Penal Code. The abduction should be reported as soon as possible to the police, and the child and an international search notice should be issued for the child and the abductor. Reporting to the police may be decisive in stopping the abductor and the child on the way out of the country, at an airport, or in order to have the abductor and the child detained abroad and returned to Norway. If the child is abducted to a Non-Contracting State, reporting an abductor to the police may be the only way of getting the child returned to Norway. Reporting the abductor to the police may also be necessary in cases where the child has been abducted to a country that has endorsed the Hague Convention in order to get the authorities of that country to provide the necessary assistance.

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