Date : 02/12/2020


1. My child is abducted to Turkey by his father/mother, what can I do?

First of all, you should be informed that there is a widely accepted1 international convention that deals with this very matter to which Turkey is a party that is called “Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” (“The Hague Convention” or “Convention”). If your child is abducted from another Contracting State to Turkey and she/he is under the age of 16 then this Convention will apply.

The aim of this Convention is to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States. It is a key legal instrument that offers convenience and pace that is significantly required during the return process.

In order to initiate the return process set out in the Convention, first thing to do is to apply to the Central Authority either in the requesting State or the requested State. You may reach contact information of the Central Authorities in each contracting state at the following link: https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/authorities1/?cid=24

For more information on how the process continues, please see the following link: The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and Its Objectives

It should be also kept in mind that it is possible to ask the court to put travel ban on child’s passport in order to prevent the abducting parent from abducting the child to another country after having been discovered their whereabouts.

2. My child is abducted to Turkey. However, abducting parent also has custody rights over the abducted child, can I still resort to The Hague Convention to have my child return to his/her habitual residence?

Yes, the Convention still applies as long as your rights of custody or access is breached. Meaning, if you have custodial or access rights over your children and you actually exercise those rights, then international abduction of the mutual child by the other parent, who also has custodial rights, is still considered wrongful under the Convention. Therefore, wrongful abduction and retention may also occur between married couples or parents who hold joint custody or where one of the parents hold legal custody and the other has access rights.

3. My husband/wife wants us to visit his/her home country Turkey for the summer, are there any precautions I can take in order to avoid retention of our children there?

It would be advisable to get a written statement from your partner, preferably notarized, where he/she would state that he/she recognizes that your children’s habitual residence is in the country where you currently live (naming the particular city) and that you will stay in Turkey only for holiday purposes and will go back to your habitual residence after the holiday to resume your family life. Possible scenarios that may come up such as the extension of the holiday period, renting a place to stay or children’s involvement with a school in Turkey will not mean that partners have agreed to resume their ordinary life in Turkey. It is both parents’ wish and intention to go back to children’s habitual residence after visiting Turkey for a holiday.

This will be a protection should your partner claims that children’s habitual residence was changed to Turkey as per both parents will.

4. Is it a crime for parents to abduct their children from one another under the laws of Turkey?

In Turkey, abduction of a child is not a crime if the abducting parent has custody rights over the abducted child. However, if the abducting parent has lost his/her custody rights, then it is a crime to abduct the child from his/her legal custodian as per Article 234 of Turkish Criminal Code. In such a case, the left behind parent may file a complaint to initiate a criminal proceeding along with a civil proceeding based on the Hague Convention.

5. I took my children to Turkey for their protection without the knowledge of my spouse and will file a divorce here, will I be ordered to return my children to their habitual residence?

Where the Convention is applicable, Turkish court may refuse the return request if there is a grave risk that his/her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.  It is important to highlight that the grave risk must be against the child in order to invoke this exception. The judicial or administrative authority may also refuse to order the return of the child if it finds that the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views.

6. My child is abducted to Turkey. Do I have to reside in Turkey until the return case is over?

No, you are neither required to reside in Turkey nor appear before the court unless the court summons you for a hearing. That said, upon request and in accordance with the facts of the specific case, the court may order an interim measure for child to reside with the left-behind parent where suitable or left-behind to have a visiting arrangement with the child, both taking place in Turkey during the course of the proceedings.

For more information on how the court process goes during the return procedure please read: Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction: The Return Procedure in Turkey

For more information on international child abduction cases in Turkey you may contact our international family law department by sending an e-mail to info@guzeloglu.legal

1 As of 10 August 2020, number of Contracting Parties to this Convention is 101.
Author: Abdülkadir Güzeloğlu & Fatma Esra Güzeloğlu
Relevant Fields: International Family Law