In a world in which travel and communication are easier and faster than ever, many families have ties to more than one country. Some parents may relocate to pursue a job opportunity, or some may choose to live in a spouse or partner’s home country. As a result, many children are raised in bilingual households or speak a different language at home than they do at school. Many of today’s children will be capable world leaders tomorrow, thanks to their diverse experiences.
At the same time, international families face complicated challenges if the parents’ relationship changes. Most parents do not plan for a separation, and if a separation happens, they may not agree about where their children should live. When a parent removes a child from his or her country of habitual residence without the legal authority to do so, it is considered abduction. To help address the complicated nature of international parental child abduction, many countries, including the United States and Slovakia, have joined the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Convention).
The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of international abduction by a parent, and to do so, it requires signatories, including Slovakia, to meet certain international obligations. Recent amendments to Slovakia’s family law and civil procedure code underscore the importance Slovakia places on returning abducted children as expeditiously as possible.
When a judge makes a ruling in these cases, it is not a decision about custody, but rather about where any further custody case should be heard.
By amending the law to prevent protracted legal proceedings in international parental abduction cases, Slovakia has undertaken an important effort to uphold the Convention and to protect children by minimizing the time the return process takes. We look forward to continuing to work together with Slovakia on our shared goals of returning abducted children as expeditiously as possible, preventing new abductions, and strengthening and expanding the Convention.