(European Court of Human Rights, 21 July 2015)
[The judgment and accompanying headnote has now published in Family Law Reports  1 FLR 267
Abduction – Hague Convention – Children removed from USA to Slovakia – Lengthy proceedings in Slovakia with no final determination – Proceedings terminated when mother and children moved to Hungary – Whether the failure to take a decision on the merits had breached Art 8 of the European Convention
Please see attached file below for the full judgment.The ECHR found that the Slovakian authorities had failed to ensure the father’s Art 8, European Convention rights in providing proceedings for the return of his children under the Hague Convention.
The American father and Slovak mother were married and had three children together. During the marriage they lived in the USA. When the marriage broke down the mother took the three children to Slovakia and notified the father that they would not be returning. Once there she initiated divorce proceedings and sought sole custody of the children.
The father sought a return of the children under the Hague Convention. A return order was granted on the basis that the children had been habitually resident in the USA and that they had been wrongfully removed. There were no obstacles to a return. On appeal the order was upheld and it became final and binding.
When the mother failed to comply with the return order the father brought enforcement proceedings. Enforcement was suspended while the mother brought constitutional proceedings regarding the return order. The matter was remitted to the regional court for reconsideration in light of the outcome of the constitutional court. The father's appeal from that decision on the basis that he had not been given an opportunity to appear before the court was declared inadmissable.
The constitutional court allowed the mother's appeal from the return order and the case was remitted for a fresh determination. The father's appeal from that decision was declared inadmissable. Following numerous court hearings where no final determination was made the Slovakian court terminated the proceedings on the basis that the mother and children had moved to Hungary and established residence there. The father applied to the European Court of Human Rights alleging a breach of Art 8 of the European Convention.
The ECHR held that the Respondent State had failed to secure the father the right to respect for his family life by providing him with proceedings for the return of the children under the Hague Convention in compliance with the requirements of Article 8 of the European Convention. The father was awarded €19,500.
THIRD SECTIONCASE OF FRISANCHO PEREA v. SLOVAKIA(Application no. 383/13)
21 July 2015
This judgment will become final in the circumstances set out in Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be subject to editorial revision.
In the case of Frisancho Perea v. Slovakia
The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Chamber composed of:
Josep Casadevall, President
Luis López Guerra,Ján Šikuta,Kristina Pardalos,Johannes Silvis,Valeriu Griţco,Branko Lubarda, judges
Marialena Tsirli, Deputy Section Registrar
Having deliberated in private on 30 June 2015
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date.
Frisancho Perea v Slovakia (Application No. 383/13)