Travel.State.Gov > International Parental Child Abduction > Country Information > Bulgaria International Parental Child Abduction Information
Bulgaria 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 January 1, 2005.
For information concerning travel to Bulgaria, 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 Bulgaria.
The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Child Abduction. The report is located here.
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 Bulgaria. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
The Bulgarian Central Authority (BCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Ministry of Justice, Legal Child Support Department. The BCA reviews Hague applications for completion, initiates location efforts for missing children, and if appropriate, approaches taking parties about whether or not abduction situations may be resolved voluntarily. The BCA can be reached at:
The Ministry of Justice
Legal Child Support Department
Central Authority of the Republic of Bulgaria
1, Slavyanska Street
Telephone: +359 (2) 923 7302
Fax: +359 (2) 987 1557
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Bulgaria, the USCA encourages a parent or legal guardian 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. 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. It is extremely important that each document written in English be translated into Bulgarian prior to court proceedings commencing. The BCA can assist with translations, although the case processing may occur more expeditiously if applicant parents provide translations. Please note, however, that certified translations are not necessary.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the U.S. or Bulgarian central authorities. Fees for privately retained attorneys are the responsibility of the applicant parent. 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 Bulgaria. 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 Bulgaria. 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.
Legal representation is required in a Hague Abduction Convention case in Bulgaria. It is not mandatory for a parent or legal guardian to retain a private attorney, however, as the BCA will appoint a lawyer from the Ministry of Justice to present the applicant parent’s Hague case to the specialized Hague court in Bulgaria (the City Court of Sofia). This service is free of charge. Parents or legal guardians may hire a private attorney to assist them with their case and to advise them as to the best course of action for their individual circumstances. A privately hired attorney should contact the BCA as soon as possible after the BCA receives the Hague application. The Ministry of Justice lawyer will continue to participate in advancing the Hague petition in court even if an applicant parent retains private legal representation.
The U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria, posts a list of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law.
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.
While Bulgaria does not offer a formal, structured mediation program, the Ministry of Justice maintains a list of mediation providers (in Bulgarian only). See “Hague Abduction Convention” section above for the Ministry of Justice telephone number or contact the Office of Children’s Issues. The average fee for a mediation procedure, regardless of how many sessions are necessary, is about $500. Costs are typically divided equally between the parties.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.
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.