The case concerned two children born in 2000 and 2002 to a Norwegian father and a Slovak mother, who had married in Norway in 2000.
The family lived together in Norway until the father left the family home in May 2004. On 18 August 2004, an administrative decision was taken on the couple’s separation.
On 7 September 2004, the Vester??len District Court (tingrett) in Norway issued an interim order stating that the parents have joint responsibility for the children and that the children would remain in the care of the mother with visiting rights for the father. The District Court prohibited the parents from taking the children out of the Norwegian territory without the consent of the other parent.
On 8 July 2005, the mother took the children to Slovakia.
On 21 September 2005, the Vester??len District Court awarded exclusive parental responsibility to the father. The award placed the children under his care, with visiting rights for the mother. An order was issued, forbidding her from removing the children out of the Norwegian territory.
On 14 December 2005, the father initiated proceedings under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention in Slovakia, seeking a return order for the children.
On 23 May 2006, the Liptovsk?? Mikul?š District Court (Okresn?? s?d) in Slovakia dismissed the father’s action for return. The father’s appeal against this decision was dismissed by the Žilina Regional Court (Krajsk?? s?d) on 28 February 2007.
The father then petitioned the Prosecutor General for an extraordinary appeal on points of law (mimoriadne dovolanie) but was informed in October 2007 that this type of extraordinary appeal was not available in family law matters.
On 30 May 2007, the father submitted a complaint to the Constitutional Court (Ustavn?? s?d) alleging a violation of his fundamental rights. On 12 June 2008, the Constitutional Court found a violation of Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It overturned the decision of 28 February 2007 and remitted the matter to the Regional Court for re-examination.
On 7 October 2008, the Regional Court re-examined the decision, overturned it and remitted the case to the District Court for re-examination.
On 16 April 2009, the District Court issued an order for the return of the children which was upheld on appeal by the Regional Court on 23 June 2009. On 13 August 2009, the order became final and binding and the father petitioned for enforcement.
The mother filed an appeal on points of law (dovolanie) and on 7 September 2010, the return order was overturned by the Supreme Court (Najvyšš? s?d). The case was remitted to the District Court and the enforcement proceedings were discontinued on 30 September 2010.
A new return order was then issued on 22 October 2010 by the District Court and upheld by the Regional Court on 25 January 2011. On 24 February 2011, the father petitioned for enforcement of the order which had become final and binding.
The Prosecutor General lodged an extraordinary appeal on points of law on behalf of the mother and on 27 July 2011, the Supreme Court quashed the return order. It noted that the courts, being bound to examine carefully the overall situation to which the children would return in the place of their habitual residence, had based their decision on reports of February and April 2009 which the Supreme Court judged outdated in the circumstances. The matter was remitted to the District Court for a new examination and the enforcement proceedings were terminated.
The father’s action for return was rejected by the District Court on 21 November 2011 and dismissed on appeal by the Regional Court on 6 November 2012. Both courts relied on the Supreme Courts’ judgment of 27 July 2011 and noted that the children wanted to stay with their mother in Slovakia where they had spent more than half of their lives and were integrated.
In the meantime, on 3 September 2012, the father had lodged a complaint to the Constitutional Court against the District Court, the Regional Court and Supreme Court, alleging a violation of his rights under Articles 6 and 8 of the ECHR and their constitutional equivalents. He submitted that the court procedure had lasted an excessively long time (nearly seven years) which had worked against him in his return application. He also challenged the decision of the Supreme Court of 27 July 2011 because the Prosecutor General had lodged an extraordinary appeal on points of law on behalf of the mother, whereas that same remedy had been refused to him on the basis that it was not available in family law matters.
On 30 October 2012, the Constitutional Court declared the father’s complaint inadmissible. It based its decision on, inter alia, the fact that the Supreme Court and District Court were no longer dealing with the case at the time the complaint had been introduced. The examination of the length of these proceedings could not accelerate the proceedings anymore, therefore, the father lacked the standing to have them examined.
On 13 May 2013, the father lodged a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECrtHR) against the Slovak Republic.