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About the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (HCCAICA) is an international treaty to protect children who have been removed from their country of habitual residence without the permission of a parent who has custody rights.

When it applies

The HCCAICA applies to cases:

Filing an application under the International Child Abduction Act

If you are a parent with custody rights and your child has been wrongfully removed or retained in Singapore without your permission as defined by the HCCAICA, you can apply to the Family Courts for an order to have the child returned under Section 8 of the International Child Abduction Act (ICAA).

As defined within Article 15 of the HCCAICA, if you are a party who has sufficient interest in the matter, you can apply to the Family Courts for the court to make a declaration that the removal of a child from Singapore, or the retention of the child outside Singapore, was wrongful under Section 14 of the ICAA.

Note
Under Article 15 of the HCCAICA, you may have to provide evidence that the removal or retention of the child from their country of habitual residence was wrongful before the judicial or administrative authorities of a contracting state makes an order for the return of the child.

Key facts

Refer to the following on how you can file and serve an application under the ICAA.

If you are filing the application, you are the plaintiff or applicant.

The other party is the defendant.

When to file

Before the child reaches 16 years of age.

How to file

Through eLitigation.

When to serve

You should serve the approved documents on the defendant and the relevant authorities within 7 days from the date that you filed the application.

What you will need

Depending on the nature of your application, you will need to provide the following information or documents.

You should prepare the following:

Your affidavit must state the following:

  • The particulars of all parties to the proceedings.
  • The particulars of the relevant child, including the date of birth.
  • The grounds (reasons) for your application.
  • The whereabouts of the relevant child in Singapore and the particulars of any person the relevant child is presumed to be with.
  • Details about any court proceedings relating to the relevant child.
    • This may include proceedings outside Singapore and concluded proceedings, whether in or outside Singapore, relating to the relevant child.
    • You will also have to provide the particulars of any such proceedings and any orders made in any such proceedings (including interim orders).
  • Any other information that may assist in securing the return of your child.

Your application must also include all of the following:

  • An authenticated copy of any relevant decision relating to the custody of the relevant child.
    • This decision can be made by any court, whether in or outside Singapore.
  • An authenticated copy of any relevant agreement relating to the custody of the relevant child.
  • A certificate or an affidavit from the Central Authority of Singapore or any other authority from a contracting state.
    • The certificate or affidavit can also be obtained from a person who is qualified to express an opinion on the relevant law in the contracting state.
Note

If you are not sure what to say, or need help preparing your OS or affidavit, you should seek independent legal advice.

The courts are not able to provide legal advice or recommend lawyers. Find out where to get help.

You should prepare the following:

Your affidavit must state the following:

  • The particulars of all parties to the proceedings.
  • The particulars of the relevant child, including the date of birth.
  • The grounds (reasons) for your application.
  • The whereabouts of the relevant child in Singapore, and the particulars of any person the relevant child is presumed to be with.
  • Details about any court proceedings relating to the relevant child.
    • This may include proceedings outside Singapore and concluded proceedings, whether in or outside Singapore) relating to the relevant child.
    • You will also have to provide the particulars of any such proceedings and any orders made in any such proceedings (including interim orders).

Your application must also include all of the following:

  • Any relevant decision relating to the custody of the relevant child made by any court, whether in or outside Singapore.
  • Any relevant agreement relating to the custody of the relevant child.
Note
If you are not sure what to say, or need help preparing your OS or affidavit, you should seek independent legal advice.

The courts are not able to provide legal advice or recommend lawyers. Find out where to get help.

Estimated fees

Refer to the following for the possible fees for filing your documents. You may also refer to Part 2 of the Fifth Schedule of the Family Justice Rules for the full list of court fees.

In addition to these fees listed in the table, there are also other fees payable to the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

Item or service

Fees

Filing an Originating Summons (OS)

$60

Filing the supporting affidavit

$1 per page. subject to a minimum of $10 per affidavit

How to file and serve

Refer to the following steps to file and serve your application.

Step

Result

1.File your application

 

The court will accept or reject your application.

2.Collect the approved documents

 

You will receive a copy of the sealed documents via eLitigation.

3.Serve documents on the defendant and the relevant authorities

 

The defendant and the relevant authorities are notified of your application.

You may choose to file your application personally or through a lawyer. If you are represented by a lawyer, the documents will be filed by your lawyer. 

If you are representing yourself, you must file the documents through eLitigation at the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

You must follow Part 10 of the Family Justice Rules and the Family Justice Courts (FJC) Practice Directions to prepare your documents before heading down personally to do the filing.

Your documents will then be submitted to the FJC for review.

The LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau will notify you via email or SMS of the outcome of your submission. If the court accepts your documents, a copy of the accepted documents containing the respective court's seal and registrar's signature will be issued via eLitigation.

You will have to collect the accepted documents for service on the defendant from the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.

You must serve the sealed documents on the defendant. This is to alert them that you have filed an application for the return of the child.

How you can serve

You can serve the sealed documents on the defendant in the following ways:

Service method

What it is

Personal service

Hard copies of the documents will be handed directly to the defendant by someone authorised to do so such as:

  • A lawyer or a lawyer’s clerk whose name and particulars have been notified to the court to serve the documents.
  • (If you have special reasons) A court process server.
eLitigation

(If a lawyer represents the defendant) Submitting soft copies of the documents to the defendant's lawyer.

The court accepts this form of service only if the defendant's lawyer indicates on the documents that they accept service on behalf of the defendant.

Note: You may also serve the documents on the defendant by any other method approved by the court.

You must also forward a copy of your application and supporting affidavit to the following authorities within 7 days from the date the application is filed:

  • The Central Authority of Singapore.
  • (If you have pending proceedings relating to the custody, care and control or access to the relevant child) The court in Singapore where the case is heard.
Note

If you fail to serve the documents on the defendant, the Central Authority of Singapore or the court where there are pending proceedings, your application will not be heard by the court unless it otherwise directs.

After you file and serve

The court will schedule a date to attend court after your application has been accepted by the court.

Tip

The date and time of your first court session (the case conference) can be found in the sealed OS.

If the defendant wishes to contest your application, they will file and serve their affidavit on you within 14 days from the date you served the documents on them.

You will then need to file and serve your reply affidavit on the defendant within 7 days from the date the defendant served their affidavit on you.

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

Legislation associated with this topic includes:

Refer to Paragraph 44 of the FJC Practice Directions for proceedings under the International Child Abduction Act.

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