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The Outcomes for Children Returned Following an Abduction

This research into the outcomes for children returned following an abduction was the second stage of a research exercise conducted by the reunite Research Unit.  The first stage was a pilot project conducted through the distribution of questionnaires, the results of which formed an Information Document at the Fourth Special Commission into the operation of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention in The Hague in March 2001. This second stage of the project was conducted by personal interview, over a two year-period, and related to 22 cases, involving 33 children, where the return of the child was to a European jurisdiction.

The aim of the research was to investigate the outcome for children returned to a European destination following an abduction, concentrating, in the words of Singer J. who so kindly wrote the foreword to the Research Report, "on the lived realities of the international abduction experience for the family members afflicted by it”.

The Research Report details the research findings on many issues, including the reasons for the abduction, the maintenance and enforcement of undertakings, legal aid and representation in the substantive custody proceedings in the home State, the custody decision, leave to remove applications and contact with the non-custodial parent. The Research Report also contains conclusions relating to the way in which abduction matters are dealt with.

It was one of our stated aims that the research should, by providing fundamental data regarding what happens in practice in this field, make a useful contribution to the debate surrounding the manner in which abduction matters are dealt with (See Research Report at p2). Further, in the foreword to the Research Report, the Honourable Mr. Justice Peter Singer stated that the Report "is a salutary stimulus, a prompt which deserves attention and which should drive forward the debate".

We are therefore extremely pleased that the response to our Research Report was so positive and has fulfilled our objectives. Scholars and commentators have used our research findings which have been cited in their own works, both on abduction issues and those concerned with wider aspects of family law.

Click here to download the Research Report