The Hague Abduction Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of 1 December 1983 (“Hague Abduction Convention”) is a multilateral treaty that makes provision for the expeditious return of a child. This is applicable to those children who were wrongfully taken by one parent to another country, without the consent of the other parent, upon application by the aggrieved parent.

The basis for Hague Abduction Applications in the context of family law

In 1996, South Africa ratified the Convention and the Hague Abduction Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Act 72 of 1996 came into effect in 1997 as a result.

South Africa’s ‘Central Authority’ for the purposes of the Act is the Family Advocate. They play a role both in outgoing cases (where a child has been wrongfully removed by a parent to a destination abroad) and incoming cases (where a child has wrongfully been removed from their domicilium abroad and entered the Republic of South Africa without the consent of one of the respective child’s parents.

When does the Hague Application apply?

The Hague Abduction Application applies anytime when it can be shown that a child has wrongfully been removed or retained from the country of which they were a habitual resident, meaning where they resided most of the time prior to the wrongful removal or retention from said residence. The application also depends on the child being below 16 years of age.

Who can apply?

A party who had custodial rights and had been exercising their rights at the time when the wrongful removal (abduction) or retention of the occurred, or in the alternative, a party who can show that they would have exercised their custodial rights had it not been for the wrongful removal or retention of the child in question.

Speak to a Family Law expert

Should you have any inquiries regarding your legal rights as a parent of a minor or encounter the circumstance wherein your minor child has been transported overseas without your consent, we encourage you to reach out to us at Abrahams and Gross Attorneys for assistance. Our Family Law team will safeguard you and your child’s best interests in such matters.

For legal advice about Family Law, Divorce and Matrimonial Law

Juan Smuts            

Heynes Kotze        

Corinne Petersen 



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