Blaga v. Romania (Application No 54443/10)

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The proceedings related to three children, all of whom had dual American and Romanian citizenship, who were born in March 1998 and October 2000 (twins). The parents, who had married and lived in the United States, also held dual Romanian-U.S. citizenship.
On 1 May 2007, the Superior Court of Forsyth County in the United States of America issued an injunction forbidding the parents from removing their children or settling outside the jurisdiction of the said court without its express permission.
On 14 August 2008, the father signed a notarised form authorising the mother to take the children for a short holiday to Romania. However, the mother failed to return the children and on 14 October 2008, she instituted divorce and custody proceedings before the Bra_ov District Court in Romania.
On 19 December 2008, the father filed for divorce and custody in the Superior Court of Forsyth County. This application was ultimately dismissed (including an appeal) for, inter alia, lack of jurisdiction.
On 11 December 2008, the U.S. Central Authority submitted a return request to the Romanian Ministry of Justice.
On 12 December 2008, the Romanian Ministry of Justice contacted the mother, and asked her to express her position on a potential friendly settlement of the case and voluntary return of the children.
On 4 February 2009, the Romanian Ministry of Justice, acting as the Central Authority, instituted proceedings on behalf of the father, who was represented by a lawyer of his choosing, before the Bucharest County Court.
On 16 April 2009, the Bucharest County Court dismissed the father’s action on the basis of testimonial and documentary evidence, a social inquiry report produced by the Bra_ov Guardianship Authority, and the children’s testimonies. The retention was found to have been wrongful and whilst an argument under Art. 13(1) b) of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention was dismissed, the court declined to make a return order on the basis of the objections of the children.
On 24 June 2009, the Bucharest Court of Appeal allowed the father’s appeal on points of law, quashed the judgment of 16 April 2009, and ordered a retrial.
On 24 November 2009, following a second set of proceedings, the Bucharest County Court dismissed the father’s action, again on the basis of the children’s objections.
On 25 March 2010, the Bucharest Court of Appeal dismissed the father’s appeal on points of law.
The father lodged an application (No 54443/10) against Romania with the European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR) on 20 September 2010, in which he alleged that the unfolding, outcome and de facto consequences of the proceedings under Art. 3 of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention had breached his rights guaranteed, inter alia, by Art. 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In addition, he alleged that the length of the divorce-and-custody proceedings, which had been instituted against him by the mother, had breached his rights guaranteed by Art. 6 of the ECHR.