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Assistance to disputed minors

(Reference Office: D.G.IT. – Office IV)

The expression “international child abduction” indicates the situation in which a minor:

  • it is unlawfully taken abroad by someone who does not hold exclusive power, without any authorization;
  • is not returned to the country of habitual residence after a stay period abroad.

The above case occurs with greater frequency when the breakdown of the family unit arises in unions between people of different nationalities, cultures, traditions as well as judicial system. The growing mobility of people and the increase in de facto unions also affect the phenomenon.

The abduction and detention abroad of a minor constitutes a crime under Article 574 bis of the Criminal Code, where no other, more serious offense is recognized (e.g. Article 605 of the Criminal Code)

In order to prevent the abduction of a minor, it is appropriate:

  • to inquire about the provisions on custody and access rights in force in the country of origin (or residence) of the other parent;
  • to have, where possible, the recognition of the other parent in the country of origin (or residence) of any provision on the minor’s custody in his/her favor obtained in Italy (or in the country of residence), or initiate a similar procedure directly in that country;
  • to have the other parent sign a written commitment to return to Italy on the established date;
  • ask the judge in charge to prohibit the expatriation of the minor and / or the other parent without the consent of the other;
  • not to grant consent to the issue of the minor’s passport or to revoke the consent issued at the time.

If the abduction has already occurred, the parent or the holder of the custody right can:

  • consider filing a complaint with the judicial police bodies in charge;
  • contact the Central Authority at the Ministry of Justice ( if the Hague Convention of 25.10.1980 or the Regulation (EC ) n. 2201/2003. If the conditions are met, through the Central Authority, it is possible to propose an application for the return of the minor or an application to regulate the right of access.
  • contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (, in the event that an Italian minor is abducted and taken abroad, if consular assistance is required there. The MAECI, if appropriate, can activate its diplomatic-consular representations abroad for local actions (indication of the names of lawyers; mediation attempts; support for the action of the Central Authority, etc.).

The MAECI, on the other hand, cannot:

  • represent the compatriot in court;
  • provide economic support, except in the case where the concerned person is a destitute and a resident abroad;
  • act in violation of local laws or international standards;
  • refer to the local judiciary in order to have a national measure recognized or enforced.

There is only one possible “prevention” to avoid conflict situations:

Give priority to the best and primary interest of the child, trying to reach an agreement on the terms of foster care and / or visit.

For further information: