International Child's Protection

For the individuals who move abroad

Temporary and permanent travelling of a child outside the country of residence

There is no precise definition of temporary travelling of a child outside the country of residence. Therefore, in each case in order to determine whether travelling abroad should be considered to be temporary or permanent it is necessary to assess the actual circumstances of the child‘s travelling abroad by paying attention to:

a) the duration of travelling outside the country of residence. The Law of the Republic of Lithuania on the Declaration of the Place of Residence provides that the residents of the Republic of Lithuania must declare their place of residence in another country if they move from the Republic of Lithuania for a period exceeding six months.

b) the purpose of travelling outside the country of residence. If a child goes on a tourist trip, visits his or her relatives during the vacation or travels from the country of residence for treatment purposes, but does not intend to settle in that foreign country, such travelling abroad is deemed to be temporary. In cases where a child is deregistered from educational, healthcare institution in the country of the habitual residence or is enrolled at the education institution in a foreign country, obtains registration in healthcare facility, then travelling abroad cannot be deemed to be temporary.

What do the parents who intend to move to a foreign country with their child need to know?

In accordance with the Article 3.156 (2) of the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania, parents have equal rights and equal duties in respect of their children regardless of whether the child was born to married or unmarried parents, after the dissolution of their marriage, after the marriage annulment by the court or to separated parents. Parents are jointly and equally responsible for the child‘s upbringing and care (the Article 3.159 (2) of the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania). It means that both parents shall jointly and equally exercise of their rights of custody (the right to take care of the child, the right to establish the place of residence of the child) regardless of whether their marriage has been terminated and the child's habitual residence has been determined with one of the parents. Therefore, both parents of the child must also decide on the travelling of the child outside the country of residence for the purpose of permanent residence in a foreign country.

In cases where one of the parents of the child travels together with the child outside the country of residence for the purpose of permanent residence in a foreign country, it is necessary to obtain a written consent on the child‘s permanent residence in a foreign country of another parent of the child who does not travel with the child to a foreign country. The Article 3.174 (3) of the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania provides that the parent with whom the habitual residence of the child is established shall have the right to take the minor child whose habitual residence is in the Republic of Lithuania to a foreign country for the purpose of permanent residence only after having obtained a written consent of another parent. If another parent refuses to give such consent, the dispute shall be referred to the court. Consequently, where only one parent of the child moves abroad with a child for the purpose of permanent residence it is necessary:

  1. That the habitual residence of the child be established by the court judgement together with one of the parents who moves abroad;
  2. That another parent of the child who does not travel with the child abroad gives a written consent for the permanent residence of the child in a foreign country.

If dispute arises between the parents of the child regarding the travelling of the child abroad for the purpose of permanent residence and one of the parents who does not travel abroad with the child refuses to give consent for the child to travel abroad, this dispute between the parents must be referred to the court.

 

Wrongful removal of a child

Wrongful removal of a child from the country of residence to a foreign country for the purpose of permanent residence

Wrongful removal or retention of a child is a situation when one of the parents of the child takes the child from the country of the usual habitual residence of the child to another country without a consent of another parent of the child (wrongful removal) or stays in a foreign country for a period of time exceeding the period for which a consent has been given by another parent (illegal retention).

In such case, the parent without whose consent the child has been taken abroad shall have the right, in accordance with the provisions of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, of seeking the return of the child who has been potentially wrongfully taken to a foreign country to Lithuania. It is worth noting that the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction shall not apply when a child turns 16.

The Article 1 of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction governs the objectives of this Convention: 1) to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State; 2) to secure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in the other Contracting States. It means that the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is aimed at protecting children internationally from the harmful consequences of the illegal removal or retention of children in foreign countries, to secure the prompt return of children to the country of habitual residence, also to secure the right of access to the child of one of the parents of a child who resides in another Contracting State.

In accordance with the Article 3 of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the removal or retention of a child is considered to be unlawful if:

a) it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention;

b) at the time of removal or retention those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.

Thus, in accordance with the provisions of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, any person who says that his or her minor child has been illegally removed to a foreign country or is being illegally kept in a foreign country in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person provided for in the Article 3 of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction shall have the right to approach the central authority of the state from which the child has been removed, or the central authority of the state to which the child has been removed on mediation for the return of the child, or to appeal directly to the competent court of the country to which the child has been removed on the return of the potentially illegally removed child.

The State Child Rights Protection and Adoption Service under the Ministry of Social Security and Labour performs the tasks of the Central Authority of the Republic of Lithuania as per the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The contacts of the central authorities of other states that joined the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction can be found at the following link: https://www.hcch.net/en/instruments/conventions/authorities1/?cid=24

When traveling to Schengen countries

When travelling to Schengen countries after Lithuania joined the Schengen area and abolished internal border control, the procedure of temporary travelling of a child outside the country of residence was amended by the Resolution No 414 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania of 25 April 2007. It is stipulated by the said procedure that the children who temporarily leave their country of habitual residence either with parents or alone no longer need a written consent of one of the parents when they travel to Schengen countries.

Which countries are on the list of Schengen countries?

Currently, the Schengen area consists of 26 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, France, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland.

When travelling to non-Schengen countries

A written consent of another child's parent is not required if a child travels to a non-Schengen country with one of the parents. In case the surname of a child differs from the surname of the parent with whom the child travels to a a non-Schengen country, a birth certificate of the child must be provided at the request of the officers of the State Border Guard Service. If a child travels alone to a non-Schengen country, i.e. unaccompanied by the parents or foster parents (guardians) (or by one of them), then the child needs to have a written consent of one of the parents or foster parent (guardian) for the child to travel alone or with an accompanying person. The authenticity of the signature in the consent must be notarized, certified by the officer of the diplomatic mission or consular post of the Republic of Lithuania, or by elder. When a child travels with an accompanying person, a consent of one of the parents or foster parent (guardian) must contain the details of the person who accompanies the child.


When a child travels with a group to excursions, tourist trips or other organised trips to non-Schengen countries

When groups of children travel to excursions, tourist trips or other organised trips (with a sport, scientific, art and other team), an official letter signed and stamped by the travel organizer containing a precise nominal list of the travelling children and the persons accompanying them and a copy thereof must be available. It should be noted that the details of the child may be included on the list only upon receipt of a written consent of at least one of the parents or foster parent (it is the responsibility of the travel organizer to keep the consents during the trip).
 

International custody

The Service, acting as the central authority, cooperates with the competent authorities of foreign countries in accordance with the Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000, the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in respect of parental responsibility and measures for the protection of children, the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In cases where the parents of the child fail to secure the protection of the rights and the bests interests of the child when the family lives abroad, when violations of the protection of the child‘s rights are found in the family (for example, child neglect, poverty, alcohol or drug abuse, violence against the child, etc.) and the matters in respect of the child removed from parental care in a foreign country are being dealt with, the Service, in accordance with the national and international legislation, cooperates with the territorial divisions of the Service and with the central authorities of foreign countries - mediates the exchange of information related to the child's family, searches for the relatives of the child or the persons who wish and are able to take care of the child, takes other actions related to the protection of the rights and best interests of the child. In line with the best interests of the child and a specific link of a child with the Republic of Lithuania, the Service shall have the right to approach the competent authorities of foreign countries regarding transfer of jurisdiction, i.e. to request referral of the case to a competent court of the Republic of Lithuania, also to cooperate on other matters that fall within the competence of the Service trying to ensure a comprehensive well-being of children who require protection.

The Service notes that in cases where the families acquire a habitual residence in a foreign country (the international legislation provides for a 6-month period after which it should be assumed that the child has adapted to new surroundings of the foreign country to which the child has moved and has acquired a habitual residence in that foreign country), the competent authorities and/or courts of that foreign country acquire jurisdiction to resolve matters related to organization, establishment / cancellation of child custody. The authorities of the Republic of Lithuania cannot on the basis of their competence adopt decisions in respect of children who permanently reside in a foreign country.

The placement procedure

The individuals who wish to take care of a child who resides in another country are subject to the provisions of the Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 (hereinafter referred to as the Regulation). The Article 56 of the Regulation sets forth that the authorities of the country of the child‘s habitual residence may consider the matter concerning the placement of the child in the care institution or family in another Member State of the European Union, but must first consult the Central Authority of the latter Member State in which intervention by the authorities in that Member State is necessary cases for the child‘s placement. It means that a consent and/or authorization of the competent authorities (responsible for the protection of the child rights) of the country of the habitual residence of potential foster parents or guardians, i.e. of a foreign state, to take care of the child. The documents prepared by the competent authorities of the foreign countries shall be provided with apostille affixed thereto and translated to Lithuanian.

The Service, in accordance with the provisions of the Article 56 of the Regulation, may approach the Central Authority of the foreign country in which the person who wishes to take care of the child resides and inform on the desire expressed by the person to become a foster parent of the child and seek contribution from the Central Authority during the check of the readiness of the person to take care of (to guard) the child, when drawing up conclusions and providing a consent on the placement of the child in the foreign state.

Persons may directly approach the Central Authority of the country of their habitual residence for the assessment of the applicant as a potential foster parent of a child, and for a consent of the Central Authority of the foreign country for the placement of the child in the foreign country. We note that, in certain cases, the Central Authorities of foreign countries require an official request of the Service.

Thus, the court of the country of the habitual residence of a child may consider the matter of the placement of the child in another Member State and the change of the foster parent. However, a consent and/or authorization of the competent authorities (responsible for the protection of the child rights) of the foreign country in which the person who wishes to take care of a child resides to take care of or to guard the child must be lodged at the court. As indicated above, the Service or a person who wishes to take care of the child himself or herself may approach the Central Authority of a foreign country for the issue of the said documents. The Service, upon receipt of the necessary documents, would forward them to the territorial division of the Service which, in accordance with the Article 3.263 of the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania and the Article 497 (2) of the Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Lithuania, would approach a competent court for the appointment of the person as a foster parent of the child and the change of the habitual residence of the child.

Departure of a foster parent (guardian) and a foster child (child under guardianship) to a foreign state

After a person has been appointed as a foster parent (guardian) of a child, the person as a legal representative of the foster child (child under guardianship) may address the matter concerning the change of the place of residence of the minor child by moving to a foreign country with the foster child (child under guardianship). In such case, 30 days before moving to a foreign country for the purpose of permanent residence the foster parent (guardian) must notify the territorial division of the Service on the date of departure and the address of new habitual place. The departure of a child who is in temporary custody (under temporary guardianship) with the foster parent (guardian) to a foreign country for the purpose of permanent residence should not become a routine practice because the purpose of a temporary custody (guardianship) is to return a child to his or her family. When a foster child (child under guardianship) moves to a foreign country for the purpose of permanent residence achieving the said purpose becomes complicated or impossible. In this light, the departure of a child who is in temporary custody (under temporary guardianship) with the foster parent (guardian) to a foreign country for the purpose of permanent residence should not become a routine practice.

In cases where the matter regarding a foster parent and further care (guardianship) of his or her foster children who have moved abroad is being dealt with, the Service cooperates with the competent authorities of foreign countries in accordance with the 1961 Hague Convention concerning the Powers of Authorities and the Law Applicable in respect of the Protection of Minors (hereinafter referred to as the Convention). The territorial division of the Service, upon receipt of the notice from the foster parent (guardian) on the departure of the foster parent (guardian) to a foreign country that acceded to the Hague Convention, must notify the Service within 7 calendar days on the departure of the foster parent (guardian) and the foster child (child under guardianship) to a foreign country. If a foster parent (guardian) moves with the foster child (child under guardianship) for the purpose of permanent residence to a foreign country that acceded the Hague Convention and the territorial division of the Service has reasonable doubts concerning proper performance of the duties of the foster parent (guardian) and safeguarding the interests of the foster child (child under guardianship), the territorial division of the Service may approach the Service with the request to pass to the competent authorities of a foreign state the duty to supervise custody (guardianship) of the child who has moved abroad. The Service, upon receipt of such request, in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention shall approach the competent authorities of a foreign country and notify them on a foster parent who has arrived to a foreign country with the foster child for the purpose of permanent residence and shall ask them to take over the supervision of the child‘s custody (guardianship).

 

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