Supreme Court of Finland: KKO:2004:129

INCADAT legal file Hague parental abduction

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The application related to two children, both boys, who were aged 12 and almost 9 at the date of the alleged wrongful retention. The parents were divorced and had joint custody. The father had care of the boys and they lived with him in the United States.
In the summer of 2003 the boys went to Finland to stay with their mother. However at the end of the stay she refused to return them. On 13 October 2003 father filed a return application with the Helsinki Court of Appeal (the jurisdiction of first instance in child abduction cases).
On 14 April 2004 the application was rejected on the ground that the children objected to a return. The father appealed and on 5 August 2004 the Supreme Court ordered the return of the boys, finding that Article 13(2) had not been proved to the standard required under the Convention.
On 5 August the Espoo District Court ordered that the boys be returned to the United States without delay. The mother did not comply with the enforcement procedure and this led to her being fined and then, when the boys were located, they were taken into the temporary care of the State.
The mother then initiated an appeal against the enforcement of the return order. On 28 October the Kajaani District Court rejected this challenge, finding that the right of self-determination of the children had not been violated on being taken from the mother’s care.
The mother then appealed to the Eastern Finland Court of Appeal. This court found the children’s views to be genuine and it ruled that they be returned into the care of the mother. The father appealed.