A C67 is an application form used to initiate proceedings for the return of a child to a certain Country under the Hague Convention 1980. The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) is a government organisation that helps the Applicant parent secure a solicitor in the UK and initiate the process for return. The UK is a signatory to the Hauge Convention and will aim to return a child to the country where they were wrongfully removed.
Summary Return proceedings under the Hague Convention are fast-paced as the court normally aims to reach a solution within six weeks. There are five defences that can be used to persuade a court not to return a child to their country of habitual residence. These are:
- Habitual Residence. If a child becomes habitually resident in the new country the child will lose their original habitual residence. This is a factual question based on the degree of integration by the child into their new social and family environment.
- The parent who seeks the return consented or subsequently acquiesced to the removal of the child.
- Rights of Custody. The parent who is seeking the return does not have rights of custody for the child. This is used in the most exceptional circumstance for example where a parent has abandoned the child or allowed a child to be looked after by others.
- The child would be place at grave risk of harm or in an intolerable situation. This defence is only successful in extreme circumstances for example there is a risk of political persecution, or a risk posed by terrorist attacks. Undertakings, which are formal promises to the Court, can be used effectively to ameliorate this defence entirely.
- The child or children object to a return. This is where a child is of an appropriate age and maturity and expresses a clear wish not to return.
- Settlement. The child has been living in the new Country for at least 12 months.
There is unfortunately a very high bar to meet the threshold for these defences and they are rarely successful. Individuals who successfully defend a return do so by using very intricate areas of the law to argue their position. Cross-border mediation is a good option to try and negotiate an agreement.
It is important that you engage with the process and seek legal advice immediately. You may be entitled to legal aid, but this will depend on your means. Even if your defence is not successful solicitors can help you negotiate a “soft landing” if you are ordered to return.
This is a very specialist and niche area of law; it is important that you seek the correct legal advice. There is a government approved list of specialist solicitors on the ICACU website. Brethertons is an ICACU approved firm and has three partners, Kim Lehal, Simon Craddock and Gemma Kelsey who are specialists in international family law.
Please contact us today on 01788 579579 or firstname.lastname@example.org, we are here to help.