County Court of Zagreb, No. 1 Gž Ob-1456/2016-2 of 2 December 2016

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The proceedings were initiated after the father filed an application for the return of the child to Germany with the German Central Authority. The mother removed the child from their family home in Germany on 6 April 2016 without the father’s prior knowledge or consent. At the time of the removal the child was three years old. On 10 April 2016 she left Germany for Croatia and settled with her parents there. The mother opposed any return of either herself or the child to Germany, claiming that she had been a victim of acts of domestic violence committed by her husband. The return proceedings before the Croatian courts began on 29 August 2016. A decision of the Municipal Court of Osijek, No. 12 R1 Ob-566 (INCADAT Reference 1394) rendered on 3 October 2016 confirmed that the removal of the child from Germany to Croatia was unlawful under Article 3 of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. The Court found that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate any of the exceptions to return invoked by the mother. It therefore ordered the return of the child. The mother was ordered to hand the child over to the father, together with his travel document, immediately after the decision became final.
Appeals to this return decision were lodged both by the mother and by the special guardian that had been appointed to hear the child. The mother argued that there had been substantial violations of the rules of civil procedure, that the facts of the case had been erroneously and incompletely established and that substantive law had been misapplied. The mother argued that the judgement should be quashed and the case remitted for a new trial. The special guardian appealed on grounds of the Family Act and also requested that the decision be remitted for another trial.