BelgiumOfficial Name: Kingdom of Belgium
Embassies and Consulates
27 Boulevard du Régent (the Consular Section is at 25 Boulevard du Régent)
Emergency Telephone: (+32)(0)2-811-4000
Belgium and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since May 1, 1999.
For information concerning travel to Belgium, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Belgium at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1044.html.
Hague Abduction Convention
The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Belgium. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
The Belgian Central Authority (BCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Service Public Fédéral Justice. The BCA has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications. The BCA forwards completed Hague applications to the appropriate Public Prosecutor in the jurisdiction where the defendant resides. The Public Prosecutor brings the case on behalf of Belgium. The BCA can be reached at:
The BCA can be reached at:
Belgium Central Authority
Service Public Fédéral Justice
Direction general de la Législation et des Libertés et Droits fondamentaux
Service de cooperation international civile
Autorité centrale d’Entraide judiciaire internationale en matiére civile
Boulevard de Waterloo 115
Tel.: +32 (2) 542 67 00
Fax: +32 (2) 542 70 06
e-mail: email@example.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Belgium, the USCA encourages parents to review the eligibility criteria and instructions for completing the Hague application form located at the Department of State website and contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the BCA. All documents written in English must be translated into either Dutch or French, depending on the area where the child is located in Belgium. The USCA can help you determine the correct language for translation. Please note, however, that certified translations are not necessary. Any competent person or organization may translate the documents. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the BCA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or Belgian Central Authorities. Attorney fees, if necessary, are the responsibility of the applicant. Additional costs may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.
A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Belgium. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Belgium. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
Retaining an Attorney
Retaining a private attorney is not required in order to submit a Hague Abduction Convention application to a court in Belgium. The BCA assigns a Public Prosecutor to present a Hague case before the appropriate court. However, the Public Prosecutor does not represent the left-behind parent or legal guardian who submitted the application; instead, the Public Prosecutor represents Belgium and submits the request for return on behalf of the BCA. The Public Prosecutor will not have direct contact with the left-behind parent or legal guardian.
Parents or legal guardians have the option to hire a private attorney to represent them. However, all attorney fees will be the applicant’s responsibility. The BCA will withdraw from the Hague case if an applicant hires a private attorney, but they will continue to provide information on the Hague Abduction Convention, if requested, and will monitor the progress of the case, if they are aware of it.
The U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, posts a list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law at: http://belgium.usembassy.gov/attorneys.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.
Mediation may be available for both abduction and access cases. The BCA does not provide mediation services directly; however, the BCA provides referrals to private and non-governmental organizations that offer mediation services. Mediation is voluntary.
Do not attempt to take back your child
We strongly discourage taking matters into your own hands. The measures could be illegal and may delay your child’s return. Attempts to re-abduct your child from the United States may:
- Endanger your child and others;
- Prejudice any future judicial efforts you might wish to make in the United States; and
- Could even result in your arrest and imprisonment.
Finally, there is no guarantee that the chain of abductions would end with the one committed by you. A parent who has re-abducted a child may have to go to extraordinary lengths to conceal his or her whereabouts, living in permanent fear that the child may be re-abducted yet again.
If you are contemplating such desperate measures, we advise you to consider the emotional trauma inflicted on a child who is a victim of an abduction and a re-abduction. We discourage re-abduction not only because it is illegal, but also because of possible psychological harm to the child.
DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction.