Children placed in care

It may be a case of international child abduction if a child that has been placed in care outside the home is brought to another country without the permission of the municipality. This applies regardless of whether the child has been placed in care with or without the consent of the parents.

When an out-of-home placement has been decided

The custodial parent does not lose custody when a child or young person is placed in out-of-home care with or without parental consent. However, the municipality has an extensive responsibility for the child, and the municipal council or the children and young persons committee is therefore authorised to decide on a range of issues, including where the child should be placed in care and whether and to what extent the child should spend time and maintain contact with its family.

Imminent risk of abduction – contact the police

In situations where the child is at an imminent risk of abduction from Denmark, the municipality must contact the police. The police may assist the municipality in various ways, for instance by conducting the necessary investigations.

Contact the Child Abduction Unit

The municipality may contact the Child Abduction Unit for guidance.

If a child in out-of-home care has already been taken abroad

If a child in out-of-home care has already been wrongfully taken abroad or retained in another State, it may be a case of international child abduction and a criminal offence. In cases relating to children in out-of-home care, the Danish Criminal Code is supplemented by the Danish Act on Social Services. In such a situation, it is the municipality that can request that the child be returned to Denmark, and the municipality may be obliged to inform the foreign authorities of the municipality’s concerns for the child.

Concerns for a child who is present in another State

The 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention provides various possibilities for the Contracting States to engage in direct cooperation in matters relating to the protection of children in international situations. This is for instance the case where it has been decided to place a child in out-of-home care.

If the municipality believes that a child is exposed to a serious danger and is present in another State, the municipality shall inform the relevant authorities of that other State. This applies in situations where measures for the protection of the child have been taken in Denmark or where such measures are under consideration. The municipality must therefore inform the foreign authorities about the concerns involved and about the measures for the protection of the child that have been taken or are under consideration.

This follows from article 36 of the Convention, which also applies to cases where the child is present in a State with which Denmark is not cooperating within the meaning of the Convention.

The municipality also has the possibility to request the competent authorities of the State in whose territory the child is present to consider the need for measures of protection. The nature of these measures of protection will depend on the social legislation etc. of the State in question. Such a request must be addressed to the Central Authority of that State with reference to Article 32 of the Convention.

Any communication about or request for an assessment of the need for measures of protection as well as any other relevant documents must be translated into the official language of the State in whose territory the child is present or, where that is not feasible, into English or French.

These documents are forwarded to the Danish Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior, which has been designated as the Central Authority of Denmark. The Ministry will transmit the request to the appropriate Central Authority of the foreign State. The request will then be transmitted to the relevant social authorities, who will assess whether measures should be taken in relation to the child.

Any provision of information to an authority or person outside Denmark falls within the scope of, inter alia, data protection legislation.

Return a child from a foreign State

The 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention applies to situations where children and young persons in out-of-home care are wrongfully removed to or retained in another Contracting State. 

In its capacity as the Danish Central Authority, the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior receives and transmits applications from the municipality requesting that a child in out-of-home care be returned to Denmark.

When the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior receives an application from a Danish municipality for the return of a child in out-of-home care, the application is transmitted to the Central Authority of the State in question. The competent authority or court of that State decides whether the child should be returned. During these proceedings, the municipality will usually be represented by a lawyer and will have to appear in court.

If the authority/court finds that the requirements of the Convention for returning the child have been fulfilled, the child must be returned to Denmark, unless the derogations of the Convention apply.

The Hague Child Protection Convention contains rules on recognition and enforcement which, when and as appropriate, may also be applied to ensuring the return to Denmark of a child in out-of-home care who has been wrongfully removed to or retained in another Contracting State to the Convention.

If the child has been brought to a Nordic country, extradition may be requested under the Danish Act on Extradition to Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden for Certain Decisions regarding Care or Treatment – provided that the conditions for such extradition are met.

See the list of the States with which Denmark is currently cooperating under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention

See the list of the States with which Denmark is currently cooperating under the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention

If a child in out-of-home care has been wrongfully removed to or retained in a State that has not acceded to the conventions and which is not subject to the special rules applying to the Nordics, the Child Abduction Unit will consider and determine the matter in collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Application

Convention states

If a child placed in care is to be returned from a convention state, the following documents must be sent to the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior, Holmens Kanal 22, DK-1060 Copenhagen K, Denmark: 

  • Application form
  • Copy of the child’s/children’s certificate(s) of birth and baptism
  • Documentation for the out-of-home placement
  • Photos of the child and the alleged abductor

The documents must be translated into the official language of the recipient country, that is, the country to which the child has been abducted.

The application form must be completed in English. Applications to Norway, Sweden, Finland or Iceland may be completed in Danish. Most countries also want the application form in their official language. The application form is available in the official language of several countries. When using one of these versions, only the information that you fill into the application form will need translation.

Please call the ministry at +45 33 92 93 00, if the municipality has any questions about completing the forms or about the required documentation.

Non-Convention states

If a child placed in care is to be returned from a non-convention state, the following must be sent to the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior, Holmens Kanal 22, DK-1060 Copenhagen K, Denmark: 

If a child in out-of-home care has been taken to Denmark without consent

If a child has been placed in out-of-home care based on a foreign decision and this child has been taken to Denmark, it is the rules of the State in which the child is habitually resident, and not the Danish rules, that determine whether it is legal to take the child to Denmark.

A foreign municipality, authority or care facility may apply for the return of a child in out-of-home care under the Hague Child Abduction Convention or the Hague Child Protection Convention if Denmark has engaged in cooperation under the conventions with the State in question. In these circumstances, the Central Authority of that State will submit an application to the Danish Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior, requesting that the child be returned from Denmark. At the same time, the foreign Central Authority will assess whether it is a case of child abduction under the national rules of that State.

If the child has been removed from a State with which Denmark is not cooperating under the conventions, the authorities of that State must be contacted directly.

If a municipality learns that a child who has been placed in out-of-home care in another State is present in Denmark, the municipality may contact the Danish Ministry of Social Affairs and the Interior for further guidance.