You have brought your child to Denmark
The rules that determine whether it is lawful to go to Denmark with the child are those of the country where the child normally lives, not the Danish rules. This applies even in cases of vacation travels.
If you have wrongfully brought your child to Denmark, it is a case of international child abduction. In general, the child has to be returned to the country where it normally lives.
The other parent has brought your child to Denmark
If your child has been abducted to Denmark or is being retained in Denmark following access, and your child normally lives abroad, you will usually be able to get help having the child returned.
You can apply to have your child returned under the Hague Convention of 1980, the 1996 Hague Convention on Child Protection, or the European Convention of 1980, if Denmark cooperates with the country in question under the conventions.
Cooperation under the conventions
All convention states have a central authority, which receives and transmits applications from parents who want their children returned.
You may apply to the Central Authority of the country where the child normally lives (the country of habitual residence) to have your child returned from Denmark. The Central Authority of that country will then send a request for return to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Senior Citizens. You may also send the application directly to us, but in many cases it is preferable if the application is sent by the Central Authority of the country where the child normally lives. The Central Authority will then assess in the proces whether it is a case of child abduction under the rules of that country. Ultimately, this will speed up proceedings.
When the ministry receives the request, we will send it to the family court of the place in Denmark where the child is staying. The application and the attached documents must be in Danish or translated into Danish. If the Ministry receives an application in a language other than Danish, we will ask you, or the central authority that has submitted the application on your behalf, to submit a Danish translation. If we do not know where in Denmark the child is staying, we will ask the police for assistance to locate the child.
The Family Court will assess whether it is a case of child abduction. The ministry is only responsible for the contact between the family court in Denmark and the Central Authority of the other convention state.
If the Family Court assesses that it is a case of child abduction, the child must normally be returned to the country from which the child was abducted. There may, however, be reasons for deviating from this rule.
Find more information about the rules in the field of child abduction
Proceedings in the Family Court
When the Family Court receives the case, the Family Court always appoints a lawyer for the applicant. The costs of the lawyer are paid by the Danish state.
The Family Court may also appoint a lawyer for the parent who has brought the child to Denmark. In order to be granted free legal aid, this parent must meet the financial conditions. The Family Court determines whether a lawyer should be appointed to the parent.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Senior Citizens has prepared a list of lawyers who specialize in handling child abduction cases.
An abduction case is handled as an urgent case and must in general be handled within 6 weeks.
It is possible to use mediation, if the parents wish to do so. The mediator will be a judge or a lawyer who has been nominated to be a mediator.
The decision made by the Family Court can be brought before the High Court by both parents. The period allowed for appeal is four weeks. The decision made by the Family court will still be effective, even if the decision has been appealed to the High Court. It may be requested that the decision should not have effect while the case is being handled by the High Court.
If a parent wants to appeal the decision made by the High Court to the Supreme Court, the parent must apply for permission to do so at the Danish Appeals Permission Board. Find more information at the Permission Board’s website.
If it has been decided that the child must be returned to the country where it lived originally, the decision can be enforced, e.g. if the child is not returned voluntarily.
Enforcement can take place immediately and can be carried out by applying compulsory fines or immediate force by detaining the parent who has the child somewhere other than where the child is, or by collecting the child.
If the child is not returned voluntarily, a parent can initiate a court case regarding enforcement at the Family Court, which has made a decision on return.
If the child has been abducted from a country with which Denmark does not cooperate under any convention the Child Abduction Unit cannot provide assistance and you must contact the authorities of that country for guidance.
We can inform that if you wish to initiate proceedings concerning a change of custody or residence for the child in Denmark you will need to submit an application to the Agency of Family Law.
You can read more and find the relevant application form at the Agency of Family Law’s website.
If you wish to initiate a case at the Family Court or the Agency of Family Law, you may either contact them directly or engage with a Danish lawyer to assist you.
A Danish lawyer may also advice you concerning your legal options under Danish law. We refer to our website, where you can find a list of Danish lawyers with experience in child abduction cases.