Child abduction in Poland – amendments to the provisions in cases for the return of a child under the Hague Convention

Child abduction in Poland is one of the most critical situations that can happen in a family. Child abduction in Poland is usually the result of a conflict between the child’s parent, very often after divorce. This conflict may last several months and sometimes several years.

The legislator in Poland dealt with the topic of child abduction in Poland. As a result of legislative work, the Act of 26 January 2018 on the performance of certain activities of the central body in family matters within the scope of legal transactions based on European Union law and international agreements was passed.

One of the basic changes introduced by the Act of 26 January 2018 is entrusting the recognition of cases concerning unlawful abduction or detention of a person  being subject to parental authority to eleven District Courts. The Act also introduces provisions improving the enforcement of judgments to return a child.

Child abduction in Poland – the most important amendments to the  provisions to return a child

According to the new provisions, the applications to return a child from Poland will be dealt with in the first instance by 11 dirstrict courts with specialized judges. Today,  they are dealt with by family courts. They usually have very little experience in such matters. It happened in the past that judges had to pass judgement based on the Hague Convention for the first and last time in their life.

This solution should affect the efficiency of proceedings and improve their quality. In addition, the court will be obliged to hear the case within six months. At present, courts must designate the first hearing within 6 weeks.

Such solution should affect the efficiency of proceedings and improve their quality. In addition, the court will be obliged to hear the case within six weeks. At present, district courts must designate the first hearing within 6 weeks. This means that the case can last up to 2-3 years. A big change is also that the Court of Appeal in Warsaw will hear appeals concerning judgements of lower instance courts.

Child abduction in Poland – record management

A big change will be the improvement of records management. Each application, ue to the fact that it concerns a child, requires quick reaction. Therefore, it be forwarded by the Minister of Justice to the addressee by an email message or by fax . The original document will be sent be registered mail with confirmation of receipt. This way to submitt one’ application to the court is especially justified when it is necessary to take measures to ensure safty of child.

Child abduction in Poland – mandatory representation by an attorney

The introduction of mandatory representation by an attorney shall speed up the proceedings in cases concerning child abduction in Poland. It means that the parties in dispute will have to indicate their proxies or they will be appointed ex officio. This measure shall improve the way the case is dealt with. It shall prevent the proceeding to be protracted, for example by persistant failure to receive court summonses.

Child abduction in Poland – mediation

The act emphasizes the institution of mediation. The role of the Minister of Justice has been strengthened. The Minister will be able to take all legal actions aimed at facilitating agreement between persons who are in dispute over the return of the child. The purpose of these activities will be an amicable settlement of the dispute. The Ministry has already created a procedure to assist the parties in organizing cross-border mediation.

Child abduction in Poland – better control of courts decisions

The change of enforceability of judgments regarding the return of a child under the Hague Convention is intended to effectively control court.

According to the new regulations, at least until the appeal hearing, the child will remain in Poland. Decisions under the Hague Convention for the return of a child will be enforceable only after becoming final and valid. Today, court decisions in cases concerning the return of children are carried out at the moment of their announcement, ie after the first instance, although the Hague Convention does not require it at all.

Child abduction in Poland –  trainings for court officers

The Ministry of Justice will conduct training for court offers in terms of proper implementation of applications submitted from abroad. Inquiries at domicile  conducted by court officers related to child care decisions are an additional instrument in the hands of the courts.

Child abduction in Poland – cost of translations

In cases when parents fighting for their child will have to submit applications to foreign courts or other institutions, and they will not be able to pay for an translatorr, the costs of translation will be covered by the State Treasury.

The new regulations mean that the procedure concerning children will be much more efficient. It also means there will be much less judgments violating the regulations in this respect.