Child abduction

International Child Abduction

Abduction can be extremely damaging for a child and is never the solution to a problematic situation.

International Child Abduction Centre

the International Child Abduction Centre (IKO) is a Dutch agency that serves as the first port in abduction-related matters. There are cross-border mediators affiliated to the IKO who specialise in abduction cases as well as related issues, such as moving abroad with children etc. It’s always preferable to seek an amicable solution first, instead of taking the law into your own hands.

Lawyers working together

In abduction cases, it’s advisable to make use of a lawyer in the Netherlands, but also of one in the country where the child is actually staying. Proceedings for the child’s return will namely have to be commenced in that country.

At the same time, there may be a need for certain proceedings in the Netherlands to enable the child to be returned. These proceedings could involve: applying for emergency documents, issuing a temporary care order for the child, determining the child’s habitual residence, and change of custody. It is necessary to work with specialised child abduction lawyers to seek the best possible solution for the child.

Central Authority

Since 1 January 2012, the parent who is left behind is also required to appoint a lawyer.  Previously, the Central Authority represented that parent, but this is no longer the case. However, there are still plenty of ways in which this agency can assist you. The Central Authority mediates in international family cases involving children and has a wealth of expertise.


Often, several different experts and organisations (such as psychologists and the police) are involved in abduction cases. The most important thing is to never lose sight of the child’s interests.

If you are in an abduction situation because you have taken your child away without the consent of your former partner or because you are confronted with the abduction of your child, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.


This article was updated November 2017. 


Marjet Groenleer - Expat lawyer (family law)

Marjet Groenleer is an attorney-at-law and associate partner at GMW lawyers in The Hague. She has been active in family law for more than 15 years, focused on on (international) divorces. Marjet is a trained divorce mediator with the vFAS (Dutch Association of Family mediators and lawyers).

Marjet has a particular interest and a profound knowledge of the international aspects of family law. She is an expert in dealing with complex financial and multi-jurisdictional cases of an international family breakdown. Because of her experience and previous jobs, she is familiar with several foreign legal systems. A great number of her clients are expats. She understands the needs of expats working for the various international organisations and companies based in The Netherlands, specifically in the area of The Hague (lsuch as EPO, Estec, OPCW, NATO, the tribunals, ICC, Shell, etc.)

Marjet worked as a lecturer in International Civil Law for several years and at the Court of Appeals in The Hague in the family law sector. Today, she is a deputy judge in the Court of Appeals in Amsterdam. Marjet publishes regularly in professional journals and keeps you informed of the various complex aspects of (international) divorces with her weblogs.