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The Legal Machinery for Dealing with Abduction

For many of those interviewed, their involvement with the legal mechanisms which control abduction, both domestically and internationally, have contributed towards the effects that they have suffered and which they attribute to the abduction itself. They have repeatedly referred in this context to the operation of the Hague Convention, as well as to the quality of the legal advice that they received. Although these issues have evoked both positive and negative comments, it must be said that the concern voiced regularly by experts in the field, of the imperative ab initio requirement of speedy and knowledgeable legal advice to both abducting and left-behind parents, has been borne out by the experiences of the interviewees. 39

The need for specialist advice was a recurrent theme throughout the parent interviews, either because the parent had not received it or because they had, and realised that they were in a fortunate position which they believe had affected the outcomes of their cases. Some abducting parents spoke of the initial poor legal advice received while still in the eventual abducted-to State, regarding the legal position of bringing the child(ren) back from the State of habitual residence should the parties’ marriage fail, and which had led directly to the abduction incident. Other left- behind parents spoke of being “talked out of” their request for protection and being ignored when they pleaded for supervised, rather than unsupervised, contact between the non-custodial parent and the child(ren). One left-behind parent insists that this led to the abduction which should, and could, have been avoided. She says, “prevention is very much better than cure”. Another left-behind parent spoke of the original erroneous legal advice received regarding the other parent’s alleged right to take the child out of the jurisdiction for 3 months without consent which

39 Greif found that law enforcement officers were not viewed as particularly helpful by those in his survey, “Parental Report” supra at 69.


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