Costs for Child Abduction

Legal expenses

The services of the Central Authority are always free of charge.

The main principle of the Hague Child Abduction Convention is that an applicant is not charged for legal advice or for the use of a counsellor in another Contracting State. Several countries have, however, made reservations concerning free legal proceedings. Thus the situation has to be separately checked for each country.

In non-contracting States the parent is responsible for the legal expenses, unless the country in question provides free legal proceedings and counsel, or the Ministry of Justice grants legal aid for the trial costs. The measures taken by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for the return of the child are usually free of charge.

Public legal aid granted according to Finnish legislation only covers general legal counselling in cases considered abroad. This includes for instance the drafting of a return application. Other measures taken abroad - such as trial counsel - are not part of it.

On the basis of Section 23 of the Act on Legal Aid the Ministry of Justice may for very important reasons grant more extensive legal aid to a case considered abroad. This presupposes that the applicant does not have the possibility of receiving free legal aid in the target country on the basis of a child abduction convention, or, in a non-contracting State, on the basis of the legislation of that State.

Applications for free legal aid in cases considered abroad are submitted to the Ministry of Justice. An account of the case, a plan for the measures to be taken, a budget and an income statement have to be enclosed. It is primarily the necessary costs for legal measures in the target country that are compensated. In addition, the communication costs of a Finnish law office may be paid.

It is possible for an applicant to be granted free legal proceedings on the basis of the legislation of the target country for example in connection with a custody trial.

Other expenses

Enforcement Costs
In some countries the applicant may have to pay the costs for the (coercive) enforcement of the decision to return a child.

Travel Costs
Travel costs caused by the return of a child are not regarded as legal costs and therefore not compensated. Neither are the travel costs of the applicant normally compensated. In general, the party bringing back the child has to arrange the return trip and pay the travel costs.

In proceedings concerning the return of a child the applicant may demand that the child abductor pay the travel and other expenses for the return of the child.