BULGARIA AND CHILD ABDUCTION
In May 2003 Bulgaria deposited the ratification instrument on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and the Convention entered into force for Bulgaria on August 1, 2003.
The effective date with respect to the USA of Bulgaria’s accession to the Convention is January 1, 2005.
The procedure for reviewing and decision making on Hague Convention cases is a court one and is regulated with the CCP of Bulgaria. For cases within the Convention’s field of application the Convention itself is the applicable law. The court may not refuse to order a child’s return on grounds other than the ones listed in the Convention.
Bulgaria has made the following declaration under Art. 6 of the Convention, “In compliance with Art. 6 of the Convention the Republic of Bulgaria determines the Ministry of Justice located at 1 Slavyanska St., Republic of Bulgaria, Sofia 1040, to be the central authority under the Convention”.
The Law on the Amendment and Supplement of the Code of Civil Procedure, published in SG, issue 84 of 2003, introduces after Art. 501 a new, seventh section, entitled Proceedings on a Child’s Return or on the Exercising of the Right of Access. Art. 502 of it determines the Sofia City Court to be the competent court to review and make decisions on cases on applications for children’s return and for exercising of the right of access. Under Art. 504 of the CCP, in cases under the Convention the Sofia City Court must come with a decision within 30 days from the application’s submission; under Art. 505 the appeal of the Sofia City Court’s decision is filed with the Sofia Court of Appeals within 14 days from the date of the decision, in compliance with the provisions of Art. 197 of the CCP.
The Sofia Court of Appeals must come with a decision within 30 days from the date of the submission of the appeal and this decision is final.
In carrying out its powers as a central authority under the Convention, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) assists the parties for a voluntary resolution of the dispute in child abduction and right to access cases. The application filed with the ministry and the accompanying documents are filed through the official channels with the Sofia City Court for its review and decision.
The ministry takes part in the court procedure through its representative. It assists the party who filed the application in empowering a lawyer and serves as a liaison between the central authority and the applicant ensuring the best course of the proceedings and a timely decision on the case from both court instances.