Advice to parents by The Association for Abducted Children

An association for abducted children (Kaapatut Lapset ry) has been formed in order to support and advise parents of abducted children. According to the experiences of the association parents should pay particular attention to the following:

  • Find out about the culture and religion as well as about family law and the concept of the family in the country of your spouse.
  • For instance the right of the father to decide on matters concerning the children may be regarded as natural in some countries. In other countries, a child is thought to belong to its mother, and she is thought to be the natural custodian of the child.
  • The memorandum on the management of international child abduction prepared by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice on 31 August 1998 may be of use.

Try to identify risk situations

The talk and behaviour of your spouse may indicate that everything is not in order. Such indications may come up in quarrels, discussions about upbringing and in disputes about child custody and rights of access. The other parent may voice a wish to return with the child to his or her native country or threaten with abduction. Perhaps this parent no longer works. A close relative to your spouse has moved in with you or to the home of the child, and supports a move to the native country. Friends of your spouse may assist in organizing the abduction. Your spouse sells personal property in your common appartment or in his or her own apartment. These signs have to be taken seriously.

The risk of abduction may increase in connection with custody disputes. A divorce between you and your spouse or a new relationship formed by you may also heighten the risk. Your former spouse may feel hurt and fear replacement by your new partner.

Both the mother and the father may abduct the child, and the abductor may be Finnish just as well as a foreigner.

Find out about the services of the association for abducted children

The association for abducted children may provide you with contact information about parents whose children have been abducted to the same country as your child or to a neighbouring country.

Find out what the authorities can do

Passports and Visas
Inform the diplomatic Mission of your spouse¡¦s native country that you have not agreed to apply for a visa or passport for your child. More information about dual citizenship and about issuing a passport is available at the diplomatic Mission of your spouse¡¦s native country.

The police may be contacted as regards issuing and revoking the child¡¦s Finnish passport.

Precautionary Measures
Find out about the possibilities of precautionary measures, for instance an emergency care order.

Supervised Meetings
Advice and instructions are available at the child welfare authorities of the municipality of residence and at shelters.

Informing the Day-care Centre and School
Inform the day-care centre and school that the child may not be given to the other parent or to some other person without your permission.

Informing the Police and Child Welfare Authorities
Inform the police and child welfare authorities of the threat of abduction.

Try to Reach an Amicable Solution

Your child has the right to both its parents. Therefore it makes sense to try to settle your differences and reach an amicable solution about child custody and rights of access. A settlement is probably the best preventive measure. Willingness to co-operate and amicability are also in the best interests of the child. In addition, they establish you as a responsible and good custodian of the child in possible future trials.

Retain a good lawyer

If an amicable solution is impossible, consult a lawyer. You will need a counsellor in your legal proceedings and if you apply for e.g. precautionary measures, supervised meetings or a restraining order.