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Nom de l'affaire

Court of First Instance of Agrinio (Μονομελές Πρωτοδικείο Αγρινίου), decision 340, 31 March 2009

Référence INCADAT

HC/E/GR 690





Première instance

États concernés

État requérant


État requis




31 March 2009




Droit de garde - art. 3 | Opposition de l'enfant au retour - art. 13(2)


Retour refusé

Article(s) de la Convention visé(s)

1 3 4 11 12 13(1)(a) 13(1)(b) 13(2) 14 13(3) 12(2) 12(1)

Article(s) de la Convention visé(s) par le dispositif


Autres dispositions


Jurisprudence | Affaires invoquées


Publiée dans


INCADAT commentaire

Exceptions au retour

Opposition de l’enfant
Nature et force de l'opposition
Âge et maturité requis


Résumé disponible en EN


The parents married in Greece where they subsequently had two children. The family lived in Greece. The parents subsequently experienced problems in their relationship and in 2006 the mother moved to Sweden with the children.

In Sweden, the child to which the proceedings pertained, was enrolled in primary school and was entered on the population register. The father was informed by the mother of the situation, and visited the children and his wife in Sweden periodically.

The parents decided that one of their daughters would visit the father and relatives in Greece during the summer vacation of 2008. The child arrived in Greece in mid-July and was scheduled to return on a specific date mid-August. The child objected the return on that date. Subsequently, the father informed the mother and issued a ticket for the return of the child a few days later. The child objected again the return.

Following this, the child remained in Greece, without the consent of the mother, who had custody over the child. The mother subsequently initiated proceedings before the District Court of Sodertorn and was officially awarded custody of the children. The mother petitioned the return of the child under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention.


Return refused; the retention was wrongful, being in breach of the mother's rights of custody, but the child had valid objections to a return.


Rights of Custody - Art. 3


Objections of the Child to a Return - Art. 13(2)


INCADAT comment

Nature and Strength of Objection

De L. v. Director-General, NSW Department of Community Services (1996) FLC 92-706 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/AU 93].

The supreme Australian jurisdiction, the High Court, advocated a literal interpretation of the term ‘objection'.  However, this was subsequently reversed by a legislative amendment, see:

s.111B(1B) of the Family Law Act 1975 inserted by the Family Law Amendment Act 2000.

Article 13(2), as implemented into Australian law by reg. 16(3) of the Family Law (Child Abduction) Regulations 1989, now provides not only that the child must object to a return, but that the objection must show a strength of feeling beyond the mere expression of a preference or of ordinary wishes.

See for example:

Richards & Director-General, Department of Child Safety [2007] FamCA 65 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 904].

The issue as to whether a child must specifically object to the State of habitual residence has not been settled, see:

Re F. (Hague Convention: Child's Objections) [2006] FamCA 685 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/AU 864].

9Ob102/03w, Oberster Gerichtshof (Austrian Supreme Court), 8/10/2003 [INCADAT: cite HC/E/AT 549].

A mere preference for the State of refuge is not enough to amount to an objection.

N° de rôle: 02/7742/A, Tribunal de première instance de Bruxelles, 27/5/2003 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/BE 546].

A mere preference for the State of refuge is not enough to amount to an objection.

Crnkovich v. Hortensius, [2009] W.D.F.L. 337, 62 R.F.L. (6th) 351, 2008, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/CA 1028].

To prove that a child objects, it must be shown that the child "displayed a strong sense of disagreement to returning to the jurisdiction of his habitual residence. He must be adamant in expressing his objection. The objection cannot be ascertained by simply weighing the pros and cons of the competing jurisdictions, such as in a best interests analysis. It must be something stronger than a mere expression of preference".

United Kingdom - England & Wales
In Re S. (A Minor) (Abduction: Custody Rights) [1993] Fam 242 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 87] the Court of Appeal held that the return to which a child objects must be an immediate return to the country from which it was wrongfully removed. There is nothing in the provisions of Article 13 to make it appropriate to consider whether the child objects to returning in any circumstances.

In Re M. (A Minor) (Child Abduction) [1994] 1 FLR 390 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 56] it was, however, accepted that an objection to life with the applicant parent may be distinguishable from an objection to life in the former home country.

In Re T. (Abduction: Child's Objections to Return) [2000] 2 FCR 159 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKe 270] Ward L.J. set down a series of questions to assist in determining whether it was appropriate to take a child's objections into account.

These questions where endorsed by the Court of Appeal in Re M. (A Child) (Abduction: Child's Objections to Return) [2007] EWCA Civ 260, [2007] 2 FLR 72 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKe 901].

For academic commentary see: P. McEleavy ‘Evaluating the Views of Abducted Children: Trends in Appellate Case Law' [2008] Child and Family Law Quarterly, pp. 230-254.

Objections based solely on a preference for life in France or life with the abducting parent have not been upheld, see:

CA Grenoble 29/03/2000 M. v. F. [INCADAT cite: HC/E/FR 274];

TGI Niort 09/01/1995, Procureur de la République c. Y. [INCADAT cite: HC/E/FR 63].

United Kingdom - Scotland
In Urness v. Minto 1994 SC 249 [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 79] a broad interpretation was adopted, with the Inner House accepting that a strong preference for remaining with the abducting parent and for life in Scotland implicitly meant an objection to returning to the United States of America.

In W. v. W. 2004 S.C. 63 IH (1 Div) [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 805] the Inner House, which accepted the Re T. [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKe 270] gateway test, held that objections relating to welfare matters were only to be dealt with by the authorities in the child's State of habitual residence.

In the subsequent first instance case: M. Petitioner 2005 S.L.T. 2 OH [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 804], Lady Smith noted the division in appellate case law and decided to follow the earlier line of authority as exemplified in Urness v. Minto.  She explicitly rejected the Re T. gateway tests.

The judge recorded in her judgment that there would have been an attempt to challenge the Inner House judgment in W. v. W. before the House of Lords but the case had been resolved amicably.

More recently a stricter approach to the objections has been followed, see:  C. v. C. [2008] CSOH 42, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 962]; upheld on appeal: C v. C. [2008] CSIH 34, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 996].

The highest Swiss court has stressed the importance of children being able to distinguish between issues relating to custody and issues relating to return, see:

5P.1/2005 /bnm, Bundesgericht II. Zivilabteilung (Tribunal Fédéral, 2ème Chambre Civile),[INCADAT cite: HC/E/CH 795];

5P.3/2007 /bnm; Bundesgericht, II. Zivilabteilung (Tribunal Fédéral, 2ème Chambre Civile),[INCADAT cite: HC/E/CH 894].

A mere preference for life in the State of refuge, even if reasoned, will not satisfy the terms of Article 13(2):

5A.582/2007 Bundesgericht, II. Zivilabteilung (Tribunal Fédéral, 2ème Chambre Civile), [INCADAT cite: HC/E/CH 986].

For general academic commentary see: R. Schuz ‘Protection or Autonomy -The Child Abduction Experience' in  Y. Ronen et al. (eds), The Case for the Child- Towards the Construction of a New Agenda,  271-310 (Intersentia,  2008).

Requisite Age and Degree of Maturity

Article 13(2) does not include a minimum age from which the objections of a child must be ascertained, rather it employs the formula that the child must have ‘attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of its views.'  Nevertheless it was the intention of the drafters that the exception would be primarily directed towards teenagers who were not prepared to go back to their home State.

Undoubtedly influenced by domestic family law practice, different patterns emerged in Contracting States as to the manner in which this exception has been applied.  Moreover those patterns may have evolved in jurisdictions during the life span of the application of the Convention, particularly as greater recognition has been paid to children as legal actors in their own right.  Indeed in the European Union, at least as regards intra-EU abductions, there is now an obligation that a child is given an opportunity to be heard, unless this appears inappropriate having regard to his age or maturity: Council Regulation 2201/2003, Art. 11(2).

The issue of age and maturity is also closely inter-related with the threshold applied to the exception, that is to say the criteria used to determine the circumstances in which it may be appropriate to take a child's objections into account, see for example: Re T. (Abduction: Child's Objections to Return) [2000] 2 FLR 192 [INCADAT cite HC/E/UKe 270]; Zaffino v. Zaffino [2006] 1 FLR 410 [INCADAT cite HC/E/UKe 813]; W. v. W. 2004 S.C. 63 IH (1 Div) [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 805]; White v. Northumberland [2006] NZFLR 1105, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/NZ 902].


H.Z. v. State Central Authority [2006] Fam CA 466, INCADAT cite: HC/E/AU 876

8 year old expressed objections which went beyond the mere expression of a preference or of ordinary wishes, however, in the light of her age and degree of maturity it would not be appropriate to take account of her views.

Director-General, Department of Families, Youth and Community Care v. Thorpe (1997) FLC 92-785 INCADAT cite: HC/E/AU 212]

Objections of 9 year old upheld


4 UF 223/98, Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/DE 820]

No fixed age limit.  The 8 year old concerned lacked sufficient maturity.

93 F 178/98 HK, Familengericht Flensburg (Family Court), 18 September 1998, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/DE 325]

Objections of 6 year old gathered, but not upheld. 


In the Matter of M. N. (A Child) [2008] IEHC 382, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/IE 992

Detailed assessment of the age at which the views of a child should be heard in the light of Article 11(2) of the Brussels II a Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003).  Order made that the views of a 6 year old be ascertained.

New Zealand

U. v. D. [2002] NZFLR 529, INCADAT cite: HC/E/NZ 472

Objections of 7 year old considered, but not upheld.


5P.1/2005 /bnm, Bundesgericht, II. Zivilabteilung (Tribunal Fédéral, 2ème Chambre Civile), [INCADAT cite: HC/E/CH 795

No minimum age.  Children aged 9 1/2 and 10 ½ heard, but their objections were not upheld.

5P.3/2007 /bnm, Bundesgericht, II. Zivilabteilung, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/CH 894

A child would have the requisite maturity if he was able to understand the nature of the return proceedings. It was not possible to give general guidance as to the minimum age from which a child would be able to deal with such an abstract issue. The Court noted however that research in the field of child psychology suggested a child would only be capable of such reasoning from the age of 11 or 12.  The court of appeal had therefore been entitled not to gather the views of children, then aged 9 and 7.

United Kingdom - England & Wales

Re W (Minors) [2010] EWCA 520 Civ, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 1324

Objections of siblings aged 8 and almost 6 upheld.

The Court accepted that the objections of a child of 6 falling within the exception would have been outside the contemplation of the drafters.  However, Wilson L.J. held that: "...over the last thirty years the need to take decisions about much younger children not necessarily in accordance with their wishes but at any rate in the light of their wishes has taken hold... ."

United Kingdom - Scotland

N.J.C. v. N.P.C. [2008] CSIH 34, 2008 S.C. 571, [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 996

Views of 9 ½ year old not gathered; objections of her 15 and 11 year old siblings not upheld.

W. v. W. 2004 S.C. 63 IH (1 Div) [INCADAT cite: HC/E/UKs 805]

9 year old not of sufficient maturity to have her views considered - decision of trial judge reversed.

United States

Blondin v. Dubois, 238 F.3d 153 (2d Cir. 2001) INCADAT cite: HC/E/USf 585]

No minimum age at which objections of a child can be ascertained.  Objections of 8 year old, within the context of an Art. 13(1)b) assessment, upheld.

Escobar v. Flores 183 Cal. App. 4th 737 (2010), [INCADAT cite: HC/E/USs 1026]

No minimum age at which objections of a child can be ascertained.  Objections of 8 year old upheld.