Cross-border Child Abduction

The German Foreign Office and German diplomatic missions abroad receive constant requests for advice and assistance in cases were a husband, wife or partner, generally non-German, has taken a child or children abroad in breach of a sole or joint right of parental responsibility.

In such cases of cross-border child abductions the Foreign Office and diplomatic missions, unfortunately, have only limited scope to help directly with return of the child to Germany, as custody and residence matters are generally the sole responsibility of the courts and must therefore be resolved and enforced in the jurisdiction where the child is currently a resident. Under the principle of the division of powers which today applies in almost all countries, governments are constitutionally prevented from intervening in judicial matters.

This applies even when they are asked for help by the German Government and would like to cooperate in the light of good political relations. In every case the diplomatic missions will, in the interests of the child, advise on an amicable settlement with the party holding the child, offer mediation as far as possible and, if necessary, refer the person concerned to reliable lawyers.

Under certain circumstances, legal aid might be available in Germany in cases of international child abduction from the following charitable organisation:

Weißer Ring

Gemeinnütziger Verein zur Unterstützung von

Kriminalitätsopfern und zur Verhütung von Straftaten e.V.

Postfach 26 13 55

55130 Mainz-Wiesenau

Tel.: 06131 / 83030

Fax: 06131 / 830345

E-Mail: weisser-ring%27%de,info

The prime legal instrument in cases of international child abduction is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of October 15, 1980 (Federal Law Gazette, 1990, Part II, pp. 206 ff.), provided the child's new country of residence is, like Germany and the US, party to the Convention. Every country party to the Convention has instituted central authorities responsible for taking all appropriate measures to ensure the immediate return of children illegally taken to, or detained in, such country.

The relevant Central Authority in Germany is:

Bundesamt für Justiz

- Zentrale Behörde -

Adenauerallee 99 - 103

53113 Bonn


National: 0228 99 410 - 40 or - 5212

International: + 49 (228) 99 410 - 5212


National: 0228 99 410 - 5050 or - 5401

International: + 49 (228) 99 410 - 5401

E-Mail: bfj%27%bund%27%de,int%27%sorgerecht

The Central Authority in the US is:

Department of State

Office of Children's Issues

SA-29/4th Floor

2201 C Street, NW

U.S. Department of State

Washington, DC 20520-2818

Tel: 1-888-407-4747 (8 a.m. - 8 p.m.)

or (202) 736-9090

Fax: (202) 736-9133

Further information on how to proceed, in particular with regard to the applicability of the Convention in individual cases and whether there may be a right to legal aid in Germany or in the US, should be obtained from the Central Authorities. Generally the persons concerned should be advised to seek the advice of the following independent organisations:

In Germany:

Verband bi-nationaler Familien und Partnerschaften


Ludolfusstr. 2 - 4

60487 Frankfurt/Main

Tel.: 069 / 7137560 o. 7075088

Fax: 069 / 7075092

E-mail: t-online%27%de,verband-binationaler

Internationaler Sozialdienst e.V. (ISD)

Am Stockborn 5 - 7

60439 Frankfurt/Main

Tel.: 069 / 9580702

Deutsches Rotes Kreuz

Beratungsstelle bei Kindesmitnahme/Kindesentzug

Luisenstr. 45

10179 Berlin (Mitte)

Tel.: 030 / 2826731 o. 63

Fax: 030 / 2386704

In the US:

National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Charles B. Wang International Children's building

699 Prince Street

Alexandria, Virginia 22314 - 3175

Tel.: 1-800-843-5678

The National Center can provide addresses and telephone numbers of Local Advice Bureaus.