International Child Abduction

To assist persons in having a child returned to the Bahamas (or to another country) from where the child has been wrongfully removed by another person who refuses to return the child or permit access to the child Using the provisions of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Eligibility

Any person who is legally entitled to have custody of or access to a child may apply for assistance.

“Person” includes the parents and guardians of a child, as well as a state institution such as a children’s home.

Process

Step 1 – Consultation with the relevant official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the relevant foreign agency to ensure eligibility to apply for assistance.

Step 2 – Completion and submission to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the relevant foreign agency of an application form attaching all relevant documents.

“Relevant documents” include certified copies of birth certificates, marriage certificate, divorce orders, custody orders, school records, photos of the child and the person who has removed them from The Bahamas, etc.

Step 3 – Participation in an administrative or judicial procedure for the return of the child.

(A) For Requests emanating from outside The Bahamas (Child brought to The Bahamas)

(i) Administrative procedure – with the permission of the left-behind parent/person, the relevant official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will first seek to resolve the matter by contacting the abducting parent/person and encouraging the voluntary return of the child.

(ii) Judicial procedure – where a voluntary return is not agreed to by the abducting parent/person or where the left-behind parent/person does not consent to contact being made with the abducting parent/person, the application will be submitted to the Office of the Attorney-General for institution of the judicial process by a legal officer.

NB The judicial process may include applying for an injunction prevent the removal of the child from The Bahamas and/or orders to permit visitation.

(B) For Requests emanating from The Bahamas (Child removed from The Bahamas)

Once the application is sent to the other country, that country’s procedural rules will apply, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will only act as a facilitator and liaison between the applicant and the foreign agency concerning the application.

ALL INFORMATION IS STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL AND CAN ONLY BE DISCUSSED WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE APPLICANT

Application Form(s)

(1) Signed Hague application in English (for each child). Click here for application form.

(2) (A) For Requests emanating from outside The Bahamas (Child brought to The Bahamas)

(i) Form/Letter authorizing the Attorney-General to act on the applicants behalf in the judicial proceedings. Click here for form/letter.

(ii) Consent to contact (abducting parent/person) form

(B) For Requests emanating from The Bahamas (Child removed from The Bahamas)

The forms required vary and depend on the procedures of the other country.

Supporting Documents

For Requests emanating from outside The Bahamas or from The Bahamas (Child brought to or removed from The Bahamas)

(A) Proof of rights of custody or access. Certified copies of any court orders pertaining to the rights of custody or access or relevant State law pertaining to custody or access.

(B) Certified marriage certificate, where applicable to prove rights of custody.

(C) Copies of any relevant correspondence between the parties.

(D)  Certified copies of birth certificates for all children.

(E)  Copies of passports of the children and/or the abductor.

(F) Certified language translations of any supporting documents if in a language other than that of the country in which the application is being made. Certification must state the full name, address and qualifications of the translator.

(G) Photographs of the child and the abductor, in colour if possible.

(H) School records of the child and/or a letter from school officials.

(I) Written statement explaining delay in filing the application, if the application is made more than one year after the removal/retention of the child.

(J) APOSTILLE certifying the documents issued by a government agency such as birth certificates, etc.

NOTE: Applications cannot be processed if these documents are not provided!

Turn-around time

There are two timeframes. The first is the time in which an application must be made. This period is within one year from the date of the removal. Consequently, the earlier the application is made the better for an early resolution of the matter.

The second timeframe arises if the matter is submitted for judicial resolution. The time frame in this regard is six weeks, that is, six weeks from the date when the hearing starts until a decision is made.

Deadline

Applications must be made within one year from the date of removal.

Related Fee(s)

There is no application fee. In the judicial process, Applicants requesting assistance from outside The Bahamas (Child brought to The Bahamas) are generally represented by the Attorney-General’s Office and therefore do not have to pay any legal fees for representation.  However, such Applicants will incur legal fees if he or she chooses to hire private counsel to represent him or her on the application before the Supreme Court.  Whether Applicants requesting assistance from The Bahamas (Child removed from The Bahamas) incur legal costs depends on the procedures of the foreign country in which the application is made.

NB Applicants are responsible for their own travel and couriering costs.

For more information please contact

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Goodman’s Bay Corporate Centre
P.O. Box N-3746
Nassau, The Bahamas
Telephone: 242-356-5956
Hotline: 322-2673 (for use outside of normal working hours and on weekends and holidays)
Facsimile: 242-328-1182 or 242-326-2123