Monthly Archives: March 2010

03Mar/10

Colombia Family Law

The Law Office of Jeremy D. Morley handles international family law cases that concern Colombia.

The firm always acts with local counsel as appropriate.

Jeremy D. Morley has acted as an expert witness concerning international child abduction to Colombia

Family Law in Colombia

Family Courts: In Colombia, family court judges handle divorce and custody cases. In cases involving the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, recent legislation by the Colombian Congress has placed jurisdiction with family courts as well. In more remote areas of the country where there are no family courts, Hague cases are to be heard by civil court circuit judges.  While Colombian courts can recognize or enforce U.S. custody orders, they generally refuse to do so.  In a Colombian court, Colombian law takes precedence over U.S. law. A Colombian court order granting custody to one parent will prevail over an order issued by a U.S. court.   

Custody/Rights of Visitation: In Colombia, married parents share equal rights of custody to their minor children.  Under Colombian law, if a father acknowledges on a child’s birth certificate that he is the father, then he shares equal custody rights with the mother, even if the child was born out of wedlock.   A father who has acknowledged paternity may seek assistance from administrative or judicial authorities for a remedy if the mother interferes with his rights to custody or visitation. Custody cases are first assigned to family protection officers within the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare and then custody and/or visitation are determined before a family court judge. Family courts have heavy caseloads and cases involving a U.S. parent disputing custody with a Colombian parent take a long time to resolve.   The U.S. Embassy in Bogota notes that Colombian courts favor parents of Colombian nationality and that it is very rare for a court in Colombia to grant custody to a parent residing in the U.S. when there is a parent residing in Colombia.

Criminal Aspects: The crime of international parental abduction is covered in the Colombian Penal Code as simple kidnapping, with circumstances that can increase or reduce the punishment.   Colombia does not consider international parental kidnapping as an extraditable offense.

Colombian Citizenship: The Colombian Constitution provides that a child born abroad to a Colombian mother or father acquires Colombian citizenship once the birth is registered in a consular office or the child later becomes domiciled in Colombia.  If a child is born in Colombia, he/she will obtain Colombian citizenship automatically as long as one parent is a Colombian national or one of the child’s parents has legal resident status in Colombia.

Colombian Passports: In contrast to U.S. requirements, a Colombian passport for a minor child can be obtained with only one parent’s consent.  However, Colombian authorities have rules that restrict the departure of Colombian children from the country when they are not in the company of both parents.

Preventing Issuance of a Colombian Passport: If a parent wishes to prevent the issuance of a passport to their minor child, he or she must submit a request to the Ministerio de la Proteccion Social, Instituto Colombiano de Bienstar Familiar (ICBF).  If ICBF concurs with the parent’s request, it will notify the Colombian passport office to place a hold on issuance of a passport to the minor child.  The Colombian passport agency will then notify Colombian Embassies and Consulates of the hold.  Parents may only submit a request through ICBF, not through a Colombian Embassy or Consulate.

http://www.pasta-recipes.com

03Mar/10

China – Family Law

The Law Office of Jeremy D. Morley is extremely experienced in handling international family law matters concerning China.

We have represented very many clients, both Chinese and non-Chinese, in international divorce and child custody cases that concern China.

Jeremy Morley has been an expert witness concerning China and international family law, particularly as to international child abduction to China.


MARRIAGE LAW OF THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

1980– amended according to the Decision on Amending the Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China made at the 21st meeting of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People’s Congress on April 28, 2001.

Chapter One

Article 1: This Law lays the basic principles for marriage and family relations.

Article 2:  A marriage system based on freedom, monogamy and equality between man and woman shall be implemented. The lawful rights and interests of women, children and old people shall be protected. Birth control shall be practiced.

Article 3:  Marriage arranged by any third party, mercenary marriage and any interference in the freedom of marriage shall be prohibited. Any exaction of money or property by means of marriage shall be prohibited. Bigamy shall be prohibited. No one who has a spouse may cohabit with any other person. Familial violence shall be prohibited. Maltreatment or desertion of any family member shall be prohibited.

Article 4:  Husband and wife shall be truthful to and respect each other. Family members shall respect the old, take good care of the underage, and help each other so as to maintain an equal, harmonious and cultured matrimonial and familial relationship.

Chapter Two

Article 5:  Marriage shall be based on the complete willingness of both man and woman. No party may coerce the other party to enter into marriage, and no third party may interfere with the marriage.

Article 6:  In order to get married, the man shall not be younger than 22 years old and the woman shall not be younger than 20. Late marriage and late child birth shall be encouraged.

Article 7:  Marriage shall be prohibited in any of the following circumstances: a) if the man and the woman are lineal relatives by blood or collateral relatives by blood up to the third degree of kinship; b) if either the man or the woman is suffering from any disease that is regarded by medical science as rending a person unfit for marriage.

Article 8:  The man and woman who apply for marriage shall go to the marriage registration authority in person to get registered. If they meet the requirements of this law, they shall be registered and be given a certificate of marriage. The obtaining of a certificate of marriage means the establishment of the relationship of husband and wife. Those who live as husband and wife without registration shall go through remedial registration procedures.

Article 9:  Having gone through the registration procedures, the woman may become a member of the family of the man and the man may also become a member of the family of the woman, whatever is agreed upon by both parties.

Article 10:  If any of the following circumstances occurs, the marriage shall be invalid: a) if either party is a bigamist; b) if both parties are in the kinship that is forbidden from getting married by law; c) if any party has suffered from any disease that is held by medical science as rending a person unfit for getting married and the disease has not been cured after marriage; d) if any party has not come up to the legitimate age for marriage.

Article 11:  In the case of intimidated marriage, the intimidated party may apply to the marriage registration authority or the peoples court for canceling the said marriage. The intimidated party shall make the application within one year since the day of marriage registration. Where any party who is unlawfully confined in personal freedom applies for canceling a marriage, he or she shall make the application within one year since the day he or she resumes personal freedom.

Article 12:  An invalid or cancelled marriage shall be invalid ab initio, and the parties concerned do not have the rights and obligations of the husband and wife. The property incurred during the term of cohabitation shall be disposed of by both parties upon agreement. Where no agreement is achieved, the people’s court shall make a judgment according to the principle of favoring the innocent party. The property rights of the party to a lawful marriage shall not be infringed upon in the disposal of the property relating to a marriage invalidated by bigamy. The relevant provisions of this law concerning parents and children shall apply to the children borne by both the parties concerned.

Chapter Three

Article 13:  Both husband and wife shall be equal in familial status.

Article 14:  Both husband and wife are entitled to have his or her own name.

Article 15:  Both husband and wife have the liberty to participate in production, work, study and social activities. Either party may not confine or interfere with the activities of the other party.

Article 16:  Both husband and wife shall be under the obligation of following the policy of birth control.

Article 17:  The following properties incurred during the existence of marriage shall be jointly owned by both husband and wife: a) wages and bonuses; b) any income incurred from production or management; c) any income incurred from intellectual property; d) any property inherited or bestowed, with the exception of those as mentioned in Article 18 (c) of this law; e) other property that shall be jointly owned. Both husband and wife shall have equal rights in the disposal of jointly owned property.

Article 18:  The following property shall be owned by either the husband or the wife: a) the pre-marital property that is owned by one party; b) the payment for medical treatment or living subsidies for the disabled arising from bodily injury on either party; c) the articles of living specially used by either party; d) other property that shall be used by either party.

Article 19:  Husband and wife may come to an agreement whether the property incurred during the existence of marriage or prior to marriage to be owned by each party, to be jointly owned or partially owned by each party and partially owned by both parties. The agreement shall be made in written form. Where there is no such agreement or it is not explicitly agreed upon, the provisions of articles 17 and 18 shall apply.

The agreement concerning the property obtained during the existence of marriage and pre-marital property shall be binding upon either party.

Where husband and wife agree to individually own their property, the debt of either the husband or the wife shall be cleared off by the individual property of the debtor if the creditor has the knowledge of the said agreement.

Article 20:  Husband and wife shall be under the obligation of supporting each other. Where either party fails to perform the obligation of supporting the other party, the party that needs support shall be entitled to ask the other party to pay aliments.

Article 21:  Parents shall be under the obligation of upbringing and educating their children, and the children shall also be under the obligation of supporting their parents. Where the parents fail to perform their obligations, the underage children and the children without the ability to live an independent life shall be entitled to ask their parents to pay aliments.

Where any child fails to perform his or her obligations, the parents thereof who are unable to work or who are living a difficult life shall be entitled to ask their child to pay aliments.

It shall be forbidden to drown or desert infants or commit any kind of infanticide.

Article 22:  A child may take the surname of either the father or mother.

Article 23:  Parents shall have the rights and obligations of protecting and educating their children. Where the underage child causes any damage to the state, collective or other person, the parents thereof shall take civil liabilities.

Article 24:  Both husband and wife shall be entitled to inherit the property of each other. Both parent and child shall be entitled to inherit the property of each other.

Article 25:  A natural child shall have the equal rights of a legitimate child, and shall not be harmed or discriminated against by any person. The natural father or mother that does not directly upbring his or her natural child shall undertake the expenses for the living and education of the natural child until the child is able to live an independent life.

Article 26:  The state defends lawful adoptions. The relevant provisions in this law concerning the relationship between parents and children shall be applicable to foster parents and foster children. The rights and obligations between the foster children and natural parents are eliminated by the establishment of the adoption.

Article 27:  The step parent and the step child shall not maltreat or discriminate against one another. The relevant provisions in this law concerning the relationship between parents and children shall be applicable to step parents and step children.

Article 28:  Capable grandparents and maternal grandparents shall be under the obligation of upbringing the grandchildren and maternal grandchildren whose parents have deceased or are incapable of upbringing their underage children. Capable grandchildren and maternal grandchildren shall be under the obligation of supporting the grandparents and maternal grandparents whose children have deceased or whose children are incapable of supporting them.

Article 29:  Capable elder brothers and sisters shall be under the obligation of supporting their younger brothers and sisters whose parents have deceased or whose parents are incapable of supporting them. The younger brothers and sisters who have been brought up by the elder brothers and sisters shall be under the obligation of supporting their elder brothers and sisters who are without labor capabilities and without sources of living aliments.

Article 30:  Children shall respect the matrimonial rights of their parents and shall not interfere with the digamy and post-digamous life of their parents. The obligation of the children to support their parents does not terminate as a result of the change of matrimonial relationship of their parents.

Chapter Four

Article 31:  Divorce shall be allowed if both husband and wife are willing to divorce. Both parties shall apply to the marriage registration authority for divorce. The marriage registration authority issues a certificate of divorce after confirming that both parties are indeed willing to divorce and have made proper arrangements for their children and have properly disposed of their property.

Article 32:  Where either the husband or wife applies to get divorced, the departments concerned may make mediations, or he or she may file a suit at the peoples court for divorce. The peoples court shall make mediations in the process of hearing a divorce suit; divorce shall be granted if mediation fails because mutual affection no longer exists. Divorce shall be granted if any of the following circumstances occurs and mediation fails: a) either party is a bigamist or a person who has a spouse but co-habits with another person; b) there is family violence or maltreatment or desertion of any family member; c) either party is indulged in gambling, drug-abuse or has other vicious habits and refuses to mend his or her ways despite of repeated admonition; d) both parties have lived separately due to lack of mutual affection for up to two years; e) other circumstances that have led to the nonexistence of mutual affection as husband and wife. If either party has been declared by court as to be missing and the other party applies to be divorced, divorce shall be granted.

Article 33:  The application of the spouse of a soldier in active service for divorce shall be granted by the soldier unless the soldier is in grave fault.

Article 34:  The husband may not apply for divorce when his wife is pregnant or within one year after giving birth to a child or within six months after terminating gestation. This restriction shall not apply to the case where the wife applies for divorce or the peoples court deems it necessary to accept the application of the husband for divorce.

Article 35:  If, after divorce, both parties desire to resume their husband-and-wife relationship, they shall go through the registration procedures at the marriage registration authority.

Article 36:  The relationship between parents and children does not terminate due to the divorce of parents. After the divorce of the parents, the children remain the children of both parties no matter they are supported directly by either the father or mother. Both father and mother shall, after divorce, have the right and the obligation of upbringing their children.

It is the principle that the children during lactation shall be brought up by their mother after the divorce of the parents. If any dispute arises concerning which party shall bring up the children beyond lactation, such dispute shall be settled by the peoples court according to the specific conditions of both parties and in light of protecting the rights and interests of the children.

Article 37:  If, after the divorce of parents, the children are to be brought up by either party, the other party shall undertake a part or all of the necessary living and education expenses. The amount and term of payment shall be agreed upon by both parties; if no agreement is achieved, the amount and term shall be decided by the people’s court. No agreement or judgment concerning the expenses for the living and education of the children may in no way prevent the children from making reasonable requests, where necessary, to either parent for an amount beyond the amount as determined in the said agreement or judgment.

Article 38:  After divorce, the parent that does not directly bring up the children has the right to visit the children, and the other party has the obligation to give assistance. The way and time for exercising the right of visiting children shall be agreed upon by the parties concerned. In case no agreement is achieved, they shall be decided by the people’s court.

If the visit of either the father or mother is harmful to the soundness of the body and mind of the children, the said right shall be terminated by the people’s court. When the reasons for terminating the said right disappear, the right shall be resumed.

Article 39:  At the time of divorce, both husband and wife shall agree upon the disposal of the jointly owned property; if they fail to come to any agreement, the people’s court shall decide the disposal thereof, taking into consideration the actual circumstances of the property and following the principle of favoring the children and the wife. The rights and interests that both husband and wife enjoy in the contracted management of land shall be protected by law.

Article 40:  In the case both husband and wife agree to separately own the property they respectively obtain during the existence of their marriage and either of them has spent considerably more effort on supporting children, taking care of the old or assisting the other party in work, etc, this party shall be entitled to demand the other party to make compensations at the time of divorce, and the requested party shall make compensations.

Article 41:  At the time of divorce, the debts jointly incurred by both husband and wife for the common life shall be paid out of the jointly owned property. If the jointly owned property is not enough to pay the debts or if the property is individually owned, both parties shall agree upon the payment of the debts. If both parties fail to reach any agreement, the people’s court shall decide on the payment of the debts.

Article 42:  If, at the time of divorce, either party has difficulties in life, the other party shall render appropriate assistance from his or her personal property like house, etc. Specific arrangements shall be agreed upon by both parties. In case no agreement is agreed upon, the people’s court shall make a decision.

Chapter Five

Article 43:  In case of familial violence or maltreatment of any family member, the victim thereof shall be entitled to make petitions, and the villagers’ committees, the relevant urban residents’ committee, villagers’ committee or the entity where the victim is a staff member shall make dissuasions or mediations. The victim shall be entitled to make petitions concerning the familial violence that is happening, and the relevant urban residents committee or villagers’ committee shall make dissuasions, and the public security organs shall stop such acts. Where the victim of family violence or maltreatment makes a petition, the public security organ concerned shall give administrative punishment to the actor according to the provisions on the administration of public security.

Article 44:  Any member deserted by his or her family shall be entitled to make petitions, and the relevant urban residents’committee, villagers’ committee or the entity where the victim is a staff member shall make dissuasions or mediations. Where any person deserted by his or her family makes a petition, the people’s court shall make a judgment concerning the payment of expenses for upbringing, supporting and maintenance.

Article 45:  Criminal liabilities shall be meted out to bigamists and those who has committed familial violence or maltreated or deserted any family member so seriously as to have constituted a crime. The victim may file a private prosecution at the people’s court according to the provisions of the criminal procedure law; the relevant public security organ shall make investigations and the people’s procuratorate concerned shall make a public prosecution according to the provisions of law.

Article 46:  In any of the following circumstances which has led to the divorce of husband and wife, the innocent party shall be entitled to claim damages: a) bigamy; b) cohabitation between a person who has a spouse but co-habitats with a third person; c) familial violence; d) maltreating or deserting any family member.

Article 47:  If, at the time of divorce, any party conceals, transfers, sells or destroys the property jointly owned by both husband and wife, or fabricates any debt in an effort to seize the property of the other party, the person who conseals, transfers, sells or destroys the jointly owned property or fabricates the debt may, in the partition of jointly owned property, have a smaller or even no share. If any party discovers any of the afore-mentioned acts after divorce, he or she may file a suit at the peoples court to apply for repartitioning the jointly owned property. The people’s court concerned may punish any of the acts that hampers the civil litigation concerning the afore-mentioned acts according to the civil procedure law.

Article 48:  In case any person refuses to execute the judgment or decision on the payment of expenses for upbringing, supporting or maintenance, the partitioning or inheritance of property or visiting the children, the execution may be enforced by the people’s court in accordance with the law. Relevant persons and entities shall be responsible for giving assistance to the enforcement.

Article 49:  Where there are different provisions in other laws concerning the illegal acts and legal liabilities in the area of marriage or family, such provisions shall be followed.

Chapter Six

Article 50:  The people’s congresses of the autonomous regions and the standing committees thereof are empowered to formulate adaptations according to the specific conditions of the marriage and family of the ethnic group of the local place. The adaptations formulated by the autonomous prefectures and counties become effective after being ratified by the standing committee of the people’s congress of the corresponding province, autonomous region or municipality under the direct control of the central government. The adaptations formulated by the autonomous regions become effective after being ratified by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Article 51 This Law shall become effective as of January 1, 1981.

03Mar/10

Chilean Family Law

CHILE, CHILD ABDUCTION AND THE HAGUE

Adapted from report of Graciela I. Rodriguez-Ferrand

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction was ratified by Chile on February 23, 1994. Chile made a special declaration stating that article 3 of the Convention will be interpreted in accordance to its domestic legislation regarding child custody, which applies until a child reaches 18 years of age.

This means that, if an 18 year old with permanent residence in Chile, is wrongfully taken abroad, the Central Authority or courts of that country will have to interpret such an action as illegal, under the Convention, despite the child being older than 16 years of age.

Domestic Laws and Regulations Implementing the Hague Convention

The Central Authority for the Convention in Chile is the Corporacion de Asistencia Judicial de la Región Metropolitana of the Ministry of Justice. The Auto Acordado of the Supreme Court, which provides for the domestic procedural rules for the implementation of the Convention, was issued on November 3, 1998. A Chilean Supreme Court decision stated that article 11 of the Convention requires that the domestic court apply an expedited procedure to solve return cases under the Convention, but not to grant the petition without hearing the side of the abducting parent or without considering any evidence. This would constitute a clear violation of the due process of law guaranteed under the Chilean Constitution, which provides that any court decision should be based on a prior due process.

A. Return Requested from Abroad

The Central Authority has only administrative and informational functions, as the judiciary will always decide on the return of the child. Once an application for return has been received, the procedure before the Central Authority is governed by the Convention’s provisions.

If a child’s return is not possible during the preliminary stage, the petition must be submitted to the competent court. The Central Authority will provide the competent court with a general background on the petition and will also offer its assistance to the court during the proceedings.

Once the judicial stage has been established, the Central Authority will assist the Court and will be at the parties’ disposal to provide any information necessary for the implementation or application of the Convention in order to secure the best interest of the child.

The implementing provisions issued by the Supreme Court in November 1998 and amended in 2002 provide specific rules for the application of the Convention in Chile. The procedure begins with a petition before the Minors’ court of the alleged domicile of the minor. The Minors’ court will take all the measures necessary to locate the child. The court should not request any additional formality or certification of documents, except for an official translation of the documents submitted with the petition if they are not in Spanish and all the required documents set forth in article 8, such as identification documents for the child, the petitioner, and the person allegedly retaining the child. As soon as the petition is entered, the court should secure that the minor be located and once located not be moved.

Action on the petition needs to be taken within 24 hours of its submission, setting up a hearing for the individual retaining the child and the petitioner and his attorney within 5 days of the notice being served by the Carabineros (Chilean Police) or a Court officer. The child must also be present and heard at the hearing. If the service of notice is not successfully performed through this procedure, the petition must be assigned to the Public Defender, who will then assume the representation of the absentee party.

The objective of the hearing is to determine if the child is in the country and if there are any grounds, based on those listed in the Convention, for rejecting the release of the child. Evidence should be produced during the hearing. However, the court may order further investigation for more evidence, and this must be submitted within 15 days otherwise the petition will be rejected. The evidence so produced will be interpreted by the court according to conciencia (according to common sense based on the capacity to distinguish right and wrong.)

A final decision must be rendered within 5 days of the hearing or the completion of the evidence period. This decision may only be appealed within 5 days of its notice. The Court of Appeals will make a decision, without hearing arguments, within 5 days. All other court resolutions may not be appealed.

When the minor’s residence has not been located, the Chilean Central Authority will inform Interpol, the agency in charge of locating the minor in question.

B. Return Requested from Chile

The petitioner must submit a completed application of return to the Central Authority. These forms include all the information necessary to locate the child, such as identification information concerning the child and the person who has taken the child, the child’s date of birth, the reasons for claiming the return, and information on the probable location of the child. A copy of the judicial decision or agreement on the custody of the child may also be attached. Seeking legal counsel is recommended in order to complete the form, although this is not required. In case the petition is addressed to a non-Spanish speaking country, the forms must be submitted in English and Spanish.

The Central Authority will evaluate the viability of the petition, once all the required documents have been submitted. If the case is admitted, the Central Authority will send the return and visitation petition to the Central Authority of the requested country. The proceedings abroad will depend on the domestic regulations of the other country’s Central Authority, together with the procedural norms applied by the competent courts. In many cases the petitioner will have to hire a private attorney in the requested country. If the petitioner cannot afford to hire a private attorney, he may qualify under Chilean law to receive free legal advice and also become eligible for such assistance abroad.)

The petitioner will be kept informed by the Chilean Central Authority about the status of his case, since both Central Authorities will contact each other on a continuing basis to follow up on the case.

Domestic Laws Regarding Child Abduction and Parental Visitation

Under the Civil Code, the parent who does not have the custody of his or her child may not be deprived of the right, nor exempt of the obligation, of having direct and regular contact with the child.

Parental visitation rights will be exercised according to a schedule agreed upon by the parent who has custody or according to a court established visitation schedule convenient to the child. This right may only be suspended or restricted when a court has established that it is in the best interest of the child.

Once custody has been judicially assigned, the parent who has taken the child must surrender his or her custody. If he refuses to do so within the judicially determined time frame, or if he  infringes on the other parent’s visitation rights, judicially established under article 229 of the Civil Code, he may be arrested for up to 15 days or be subject to a proportional fine. The arrest may be extended for up to 30 days in case of recidivism.

The Law on Minors also provides specific requirements for a minor to leave the country. If the custody of the child was not judicially assigned to one of the parents or a third person, then, the minor may not leave the country without both parents’ authorization, or the authorization of the parent who recognized the child.

If the custody of the child was judicially assigned to one of the parents or a third person, the child may not leave the country without his authorization.  If visitation rights were judicially determined under article 229 of the Civil Code, the parent whose visitation rights were so determined will also have to authorize the child’s travel.

The authorization required will have to be instrumented in a public instrument or a private document duly notarized.

Court System and Structure – Courts Handling the Hague Convention

When the return request originates outside of Chile and there is no voluntary return of the child, the competent court for return proceedings under the Convention will be the Minors’ court with jurisdiction in the presumed child’s residence. Only the final decision may be appealed to the respective Court of Appeals and, if admissible, to the Supreme Court.

The Chilean courts have applied the Convention in a number of cases. But they reached the Supreme Court in only a few cases. One such case involved two girls born in 1998 and 1999, daughters of Chilean nationals living in Sweden. While divorce proceedings were underway in a Swedish court and the children were in both parents’ custody, according to Swedish law, the mother requested court authorization to travel with the girls to Chile. The father opposed the authorization, requesting at the same time exclusive custody of the children. However, without any authorization and without the court’s decision on the matter, the mother traveled with the girls to Chile. Immediately thereafter, the Swedish court granted the exclusive custody to the father.

The Minors’ court concluded that the purpose of the procedure set forth in the Convention is not to assign legal custody of children, but to determine if the children were illegally taken from Sweden by the mother and if there were any grounds under article 13 of the Convention that prevented the children from returning to their permanent residence. The return of the children was ordered, because it was concluded they had been taken from Sweden to Chile by the mother without any authorization from the court and with the opposition of the father and pending a court’s decision on custody. The mother appealed before the Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court’s decision and refused to grant the return of the children. The decision stated that it was in the best interest of the children to remain in Chile with their mother, because of their very young age and their psychological and social connection with their maternal grandparents, as well as the cultural environment. It concluded that the children’s return to Sweden would “expose them to psychological and physical risks” under article 13 of the Convention.

According to some scholars, this decision does not provide a correct interpretation of the purpose of the Convention, which is, the immediate return of the child to his permanent residence, whose courts are competent to decide on the custody of the children when they have been illegally taken abroad by one of the parents. The decision rejects the children’s return by granting custody of the children to the mother, which is clearly not the purpose of the Convention.

In another decision, the Minors’ court of Santiago, confirmed by the Court of Appeals of Santiago, ordered the return of a minor who was taken by his mother to Chile from Argentina, where he was a permanent resident. His mother violated an Argentine court order prohibiting his removal from the country. This court order was issued in a domestic violence proceeding involving both parents.  Both the lower court and the court of Appeals agreed to grant the return request based on the mother’s clear violation of the visitation rights and the judicial order prohibiting the removal of the minor from Argentina.

The same lower court, in another case, refused to order the return of children to France, where they were residing with the mother after her divorce. Although the divorce decree decided that the custody of the children was to be shared by both parents, they agreed that the children would reside with the mother with a specific visitation schedule for the father. However, the court also decided that in the event the mother decided to reside in Chile, she should request the court’s authorization. She did so, and although this authorization was rejected, she moved to live permanently in Chile with her children.

Taking into account the “best interest of the children” and their refusal to return to France, the lower court decided that, despite the children being illegally taken from France to Chile, it was in their best interest to remain in Chile, where they were already well-adjusted to their family and social environment.

Law Enforcement System

On June 11, 2003, a National Registry of Information about Missing Minors was created under the National Program for the Prevention of the Abduction and Trafficking of Minors and Crimes Against Their Identity, created by Resolution 284/02, within the Ministry of Justice, Security, and Human Rights.

The Registry will establish a database that will collect all information related to cases of children that have been abducted or missing. The database will be available on the Internet and will include all the information needed to locate them and to check on the status of the search.48

Both parents are required under the law not only to authorize the minor’s travel abroad, but also to authorize the issuance of a passport to a minor. The withdrawal of a passport, as well as the denial or restriction on the issuance of visas, may only be ordered by a court. Therefore, in order for a minor who is not traveling with both parents to leave the country, he will have to present his valid passport, as well as the absent parent’s authorization to travel, to the border authorities. Administrative measures and court orders may become ineffective if the border controls in the country are not duly carried out. This is true in the case of land boundaries, because of their length. However, border controls are highly effective with regard to air carriers and ferries.

When a court issues an order prohibiting travel outside the country, the order is given to border authorities, including the Federal Police, Immigration, Interpol, and Aeronautic Police.

03Mar/10

Canadian Family Law

The Law Office of Jeremy D. Morley handles many international family law cases that concern Canada. The firm always acts with local counsel in Canada as appropriate.

Jeremy D. Morley formerly taught in the law school at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada.

His office handles many Canadian matters including:

Divorce issues that have a Canadian element.

International child abduction to and from Canada.

International prenuptial agreements that concern Canada.


CANADA – International Child Abduction

The following is an extract from Canada’s answers to a questionnaire submitted by the Hague Conference on Private International Law concerning the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction:

Legislation and Court Orders

1.     Please give details of any civil legislative provisions which exist in your State which may act as a deterrent to a potential abductor, or may have a preventive effect.

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction

The Hague Convention, as ratified by Canada in 1983, and now applicable in all provincial and territorial jurisdictions of Canada.

Divorce Act (federal)

Federally, subsection 16(6) of the Divorce Act authorizes the court to make an order for a definite or indefinite period or until the happening of a specified event and may impose such other terms, conditions or restrictions in connection therewith as it thinks fit and just.  This allows for very clear and specific conditions to be included in an order – such as travel restrictions, deposing of passport with the court etc that may have a preventive effect.

Provincial legislation — common law (general and specifics)

At the provincial /territorial level, it is probably worth noting that in Ontario for example, one of the purposes of Part III of Ontario’s Children’s Law Reform Act is specifically noted in section 19(c) as being: to discourage the abduction of children as an alternative to the determination of custody rights by due process.  Children’s Law Reform Act, R.S.O. 1990,c. C12

Similarly, to provide for more effective enforcement of custody and access orders as between the provinces of Canada, provinces have attempted to reflect in their legislation, provisions of the Uniform Extra-Provincial Custody Orders Enforcement Act that was adopted by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada.

Autorité centrale du Québec — civil law

L’article 46 du Code de procédure civile du Québec stipule que «Les tribunaux et les juges ont tous les pouvoirs nécessaires á l’exercice de leur compétence.

Ils peuvent, en tout temps et en toutes matières, tant en première instance qu’en appel, prononcer des ordonnances de sauvegarde des droits des parties, pour le temps et aux conditions qu’ils déterminent. De plus, ils peuvent, dans les affaires dont ils sont saisis, prononcer, même d’office, des injonctions ou des réprimandes, supprimer des écrits ou les déclarer calomnieux, et rendre toutes ordonnances appropriées pour pourvoir aux cas où la loi n’a pas prévu de remède spécifique». Ainsi, plusieurs ordonnances s’avèrent possibles en vertu du Code civil du Québec ou de la Loi sur le divorce (voir réponses á la question 3).

Également, le défendeur d’une requête, peut présenter une demande de cautionnement selon l’article 153 du Code de procédure civile du Québec. Le dépôt d’un cautionnement adéquat sera confisqué en cas d’enlèvement, ce cautionnement devant procurer les liquidités nécessaires pour défrayer les coûts qui seront nécessairement encourus par le parent victime pour localiser l’enfant et son retour au Québec, le cas échéant.

En vertu de l’article 49 du Code de procédure civile du Québec, «Les tribunaux et les juges peuvent prononcer des condamnations contre toute personne qui se rend coupable d’outrage au tribunal». L’article 51 stipule également que «celui qui se rend coupable d’outrage au tribunal est passible d’une amende n’excédant pas cinq mille dollars ou d’un emprisonnement pour une période d’au plus un an. L’emprisonnement pour refus d’obtempérer á une ordonnance ou á une injonction peut être imposé derechef jusqu’á ce que la personne condamnée ait obéi».

Manitoba Central Authority: Details of any civil legislative provisions which may act as a deterrent to a potential abductor, or may have a preventative effect include:

The Child Custody Enforcement Act, R.S.M. 1987, c.C360:

    • can be invoked without the existence of formal reciprocal arrangements with another jurisdiction.
    • provides that a Manitoba court shall enforce an extra-provincial custody order and make such orders as it considers necessary to give effect to the order unless it is satisfied that the child affected by the order did not at the time the order was made have a real and substantial connection with the province, state or country in which the order was made.
    • empowers the Manitoba court to substitute its own custody order if the child does not currently have a real and substantive connection with the jurisdiction that pronounced it, or all of the parties are habitually resident in Manitoba, or the child would suffer serious harm if returned to the custodial person named in the order.
    • allows the Manitoba court to pronounce such orders as are necessary to give a foreign custody order effect.
    • allows the Manitoba court to pronounce non-molestation orders against a respondent and requires the posting of a bond or signing of a recognizance.
    • allows the Manitoba court to authorize a person to apprehend the child in question, with or without notice, to give effect to the court order.
    • allows the Manitoba court to direct law enforcement officers or agency to locate, apprehend and deliver the child to the person named under the order, and in order to do so, to enter and search any place he has reasonable and probable grounds for believing that the child may be.
    • allows the Manitoba court to make orders to prevent the removal of a child or to secure the return of a child by ordering:
      • a transfer of property to a trustee
      • maintenance payments to be made to a trustee
      • the posting of a bond, with or without sureties, and/or
      • delivery of the person’s or the child’s passport and other travel documents
    • The Family Maintenance Act, R.S.M. 1987, c.F20:
      • allows the court to order that it be provided with information as to the whereabouts of a person to enable an application to be brought for custody or enforcement of a custody order.
    • Queen’s Bench Rules, Man. Reg. 553/88:
      • Section 60(10) provides for civil contempt proceedings which may be taken to enforce a custody order.
    • Flexibility exists in The Family Maintenance Act and the Divorce Act, R.S. 1985, c.3, to allow the court to include terms and conditions (e.g. supervised access, limits on mobility, notice provisions, etc.) that can prevent abductions.

2. Please give details of any criminal legislative provisions which exist in your State which may act as a deterrent to a potential abductor, or may have a preventive effect.

See Sections 282 and 283 of the Criminal Code below. In addition, subsection 57(2) of the Criminal Code makes it an offence for anyone who, for the purpose of procuring a passport for himself or any other person or for the purpose of procuring any material alteration or addition to any such passport, makes a written or an oral statement that he/she knows is false or misleading.

Autorité centrale du Québec: L’enlèvement d’un enfant de moins de 14 ans par un des parents constitue un acte criminel au Canada en vertu des articles 282 et 283 du Code criminel passible d’un emprisonnement maximal de dix ans.

Article 282

      1. [Enlèvement en contravention avec une ordonnance de garde]

        Quiconque, étant le père, la mère, le tuteur ou une personne ayant la garde ou la charge légale d’une personne âgée de moins de quatorze ans, enlève, entraîne, retient, reçoit, cache ou héberge cette personne contrairement aux dispositions d’une ordonnance rendue par un tribunal au Canada relativement á la garde de cette personne, avec l’intention de priver de la possession de celle-ci le père, la mère, le tuteur ou une autre personne ayant la garde ou la charge légale de cette personne, est coupable :

        a) soit d’un acte criminel et passible d’un emprisonnement maximal de dix ans ;

        b) soit d’une infraction punissable sur déclaration de culpabilité par procédure sommaire.

      2. [Croyance de l’accusé]

        Lorsqu’un chef d’accusation vise l’infraction prévue au paragraphe (1) et que celle-ci n’est pas prouvée du seul fait que l’accusé ne croyait pas qu’il existait une ordonnance de garde valide, ce dernier peut cependant être reconnu coupable de l’infraction prévue á l’article 283 s’il y a preuve de cette dernière.

Article 283

      1. [Enlèvement]

        a) soit d’un acte criminel et passible d’un emprisonnement maximal de dix ans;

        b) soit d’une infraction punissable sur déclaration de culpabilité par procédure sommaire.

      Quiconque, étant le père, la mère, le tuteur ou une personne ayant la garde ou la charge légale d’une personne âgée de moins de quatorze ans, enlève, entraîne, retient, reçoit, cache ou héberge cette personne, qu’il y ait ou non une ordonnance rendue par un tribunal au Canada relativement á la garde de cette personne, avec l’intention de priver de la possession de celle-ci le père, la mère, le tuteur ou une autre personne ayant la garde ou la charge légale de cette personne, est coupable:

      1. [Consentement du procureur général]

      Aucune poursuite ne peut être engagée en vertu du paragraphe (1) sans le consentement du procureur général ou d’un avocat qu’il mandate á cette fin.

      Dans plusieurs situations, le recours au système de justice criminel peut faciliter le travail de la police dans la recherche et la localisation d’un enfant.

      Au besoin, et lorsqu’il existe un traité avec le pays de refuge, une demande d’extradition peut être faite. Il faut savoir que le mandat d’arrestation ne vise pas de prime abord le retour de l’enfant enlevé mais plutôt la poursuite au criminel du parent ravisseur. Toutefois, le mandat d’arrestation est souvent la seule solution pour ramener un enfant qui se trouve dans un État non-signataire de la Convention de La Haye.

      S’il est important de rapporter le plus tôt possible l’enlèvement de l’enfant, cela ne signifie pas que la plainte va mener á une poursuite judiciaire pour enlèvement. Il faut également savoir que ce ne sont pas tous les pays de refuge qui considèrent l’enlèvement d’un enfant par un des parents comme un acte criminel et plusieurs d’entre eux n’extraderont pas le parent ravisseur s’il est citoyen de ce pays.

Manitoba Central Authority: Details of any criminal legislative provisions which may act as a deterrent to a potential abductor, or may have a preventative effect:

      • Criminal Code:
        • Section 127 makes it an offence for a person to disobey a custody or access order made under the Divorce Act.
        • Section 281 makes it an offence for a person who is not the parent, guardian or person having lawful care or charge of a person under 14 to unlawfully take, entice away, conceal, detain, receive or harbour that person with intent to deprive a parent or guardian or any other person who has the lawful care or charge of that person, of the possession of that person.
        • Section 282 makes it an offence for a parent or guardian or person having the lawful charge or care of a person under the age of 14 years to take, entice away, conceal, detain, receive or harbour that person in contravention of the custody provisions of a custody order in relation to that person made by a court anywhere in Canada with intent to deprive a parent or guardian or any other person who has the lawful care or charge of that person, of the possession of that person.
        • Section 283 makes it an offence for a parent, guardian or person having the lawful care or charge of a person under the age of 14 years to take, entice away, conceal, detain, receive or harbour that person, whether or not there is a custody order in relation to that person made by a court anywhere in Canada, with intent to deprive a parent or guardian, or any other person who has the lawful care or charge of that person, of the possession of that person.
      • The Family Maintenance Act
        • Section 50(1) creates a summary conviction offence for the breach of a custody or access order made under The Family Maintenance Act.

3. Please give details of any court orders which can be obtained during, for example, divorce or custody proceedings which prohibit, restrict or criminalise removal or retention of a child.

Federal: See question 2 above re: sections 282 and 283 of the Criminal Code.

Autorité centrale du Québec: En cas de menaces d’enlèvement, il est possible d’obtenir une modification du droit de visite, de sortie et d’hébergement déjá attribué au parent ravisseur potentiel :

a) soit pour en restreindre l’exercice en demandant, par exemple, la réduction de la durée de la période d’exercice de ces droits de visite ou en exigeant que les visites soient supervisées par le parent ou un organisme tiers, aviser les écoles et garderies des modalités de garde et des droits de visite;

b) soit pour en suspendre l’exercice;

c) soit pour en supprimer l’exercice;

d) soit pour faire dépendre l’exercice du droit de visite et d’hébergement de cet éventuel ravisseur, de l’exécution de l’une ou plusieurs des conditions suivantes:

      • interdiction de voyager seul avec l’enfant sans l’autorisation écrite des deux parents ou du tribunal;
      • dépôt á la Cour des passeports du parent ravisseur potentiel pendant l’exercice du droit de visite;
      • dépôt d’un cautionnement adéquat qui sera confisqué en cas d’enlèvement, ce cautionnement devant procurer les liquidités nécessaires pour défrayer les coûts qui seront nécessairement encourus par le parent victime pour localiser l’enfant et son retour au Québec, le cas échéant ;
      • si le parent titulaire du droit de visite est autorisé á exercer ce droit dans un État non désigné dont il est le citoyen, exiger l’exequatur ou la reconnaissance du jugement de garde québécois par le tribunal compétent de cet État ; permettre au parent demeuré au Québec et á l’enfant, de garder le contact par téléphone ou par courrier durant le séjour á l’étranger et convenir, au besoin, des jours et des heures d’appel. Ce moyen pourrait devenir une condition pour que le parent gardien autorise son enfant á se rendre en vacances á l’étranger ;
      • obtenir du parent titulaire du droit de visite qu’il reconnaisse la juridiction exclusive de la Cour supérieure du Québec dans toute matière relative á la garde et á l’exercice des droits de visite ;
      • si l’exercice du droit de visite et d’hébergement a lieu á l’extérieur du Québec, á défaut d’obtenir les informations ci-dessous sur une base volontaire, le tribunal pourrait, á la demande du parent titulaire du droit de garde, ordonner au parent titulaire du droit de visite de fournir les informations et les documents suivants:
        • une photographie récente de ce parent et de l’enfant ;
        • son adresse et son numéro de téléphone
        • les numéros de tous ses passeports (attention au cas de double ou triple nationalité) ;
        • son numéro de carte de crédit ;
        • son numéro de permis de conduire ;
        • une photocopie de son certificat d’immatriculation ;
        • le nom et l’adresse de l’employeur ;
        • le nom et l’adresse de parents et amis au Québec et dans l’État où doit s’exercer le droit de visite et d’hébergement ;
        • une photocopie des billets d’avion (s’assurer qu’il y a un billet d’avion pour le retour) ;
        • l’itinéraire du voyage comprenant les endroits où l’enfant sera hébergé ;
        • l’obligation de signaler l’arrivée de l’enfant dans l’État de destination aux autorités du consulat ou de l’Ambassade du Canada dans ce pays ou, á défaut, á tout ambassade ou consulat d’un autre pays identifié par la Direction des opérations consulaires ;
        • obligation de se rapporter aux autorités du consulat ou de l’Ambassade du Canada en personne avec l’enfant 48 heures avant la date prévue pour le retour au Québec ;
        • interdiction de quitter l’État où s’exerce le droit d’accès sauf si l’entente ou le jugement prévoit que ce droit pourrait être exercé dans plusieurs États; si tel est le cas, faire en sorte d’obtenir les informations décrites plus haut pour chacun d’entre eux.

Aucune des mesures que nous avons énumérées ci-dessus ne peut garantir qu’il n’y aura pas de déplacement ou de non-retour illicite d’un enfant. Chaque situation étant différente, il faut évaluer cas par cas les moyens ou les solutions de prévention qui seraient les plus appropriés pour chaque parent.

Il faut également savoir que malgré le fait que le jugement de garde prévoie des mesures préventives, ce ne sont que des moyens de prévention et non pas une garantie du retour de l’enfant. De plus, même si un enfant est retenu ou déplacé dans un État signataire de la Convention de La Haye, le retour ne se fait pas automatiquement.

Manitoba Central Authority: Court orders which can be obtained during, for example, divorce or custody proceedings which prohibit, restrict or criminalise removal or retention of a child:

    • Divorce Act:
      • Section 16(7) provides that the court may include in a custody order a term requiring any person who has custody of a child of the marriage and who intends to change the place of residence of that child to notify, at least 30 days before the change or within such other period before the change as the court may specify, any person who was granted access to that child of the change, the time at which the change will be made and the new place of residence of the child.
      • As mentioned in A.1. above, in custody orders under the Divorce Act and The Family Maintenance Act, the Court of Queen’s Bench (Family Division) may include provisions prohibiting removal of a child from the jurisdiction, requiring a certain notice to the other parent of an intent to change a child’s residence, requiring access to be supervised, etc. Also, sole custody orders limit the non-custodial parent’s ability to obtain passport documents, etc.

4. Please give details of any court orders which can be obtained in emergency situations. Can these orders be obtained out-of-hours and ex parte?

Autorité centrale du Québec: Une décision judiciaire peut être obtenue á tout moment lorsque le tribunal n’est pas en session et qu’il y ait urgence (article 88 du Code de procédure civile du Québec). Une décision judiciaire ex parte peut également être obtenue mais les raisons et motifs invoqués devront être de nature très sérieuse.

L’article 46 du Code de procédure civile du Québec stipule que «Les tribunaux et les juges ont tous les pouvoirs nécessaires á l’exercice de leur compétence.

Ils peuvent, en tout temps et en toutes matières, tant en première instance qu’en appel, prononcer des ordonnances de sauvegarde des droits des parties, pour le temps et aux conditions qu’ils déterminent. De plus, ils peuvent, dans les affaires dont ils sont saisis, prononcer, même d’office, des injonctions ou des réprimandes, supprimer des écrits ou les déclarer calomnieux, et rendre toutes ordonnances appropriées pour pourvoir aux cas où la loi n’a pas prévu de remède spécifique».

Les règles de pratique de la Cour supérieure du Québec en matière familiale spécifient á son article 19 que «Ordonnance de sauvegarde: Le tribunal peut, en tout état de cause, prescrire toute mesure susceptible de favoriser la saine administration du dossier et son cheminement á l’audition. Il peut également, en cas d’urgence, prononcer une ordonnance de sauvegarde des droits des parties pour le temps et aux conditions qu’il détermine.»

Manitoba Central Authority: Details of court orders which can be obtained in emergency situations:

    • The Queen’s Bench Rules contemplate that interim orders can be obtained in emergency situations without notice or on short notice. The Court of Queen’s Bench (Family Division) has a telephone number (204-981-9030) which counsel can access for the purposes of making emergency applications outside of normal business hours on weekdays or weekends.

5. Do you have any comments relating to relocation orders?

Autorité centrale du Québec: Le seul commentaire que nous souhaitons faire est á l’effet que nous ne sommes pas en désaccord avec ces décisions á condition qu’elles prévoient les modalités étant donné la distance pour les droits de visite au parent qui restera ici. Il y aurait toutefois lieu que ces décisions contiennent une condition á l’effet qu’il pourra y avoir un établissement dans un autre pays seulement une fois fournie la preuve que ces décisions sont reconnues par les tribunaux de l’autre pays.