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European Court Child Custody

Are you one of the many international couples, perhaps living outside your country of origin, benefiting from free movement and the opportunity to study and work in the EU? If your relationship breaks down, it might become more complex It is important that your children and regular contact with both parents, have a personal relationship.

And regular contact with both parents, who might no longer live in the same country. By talking with your partner you will be able to agree on important custody aspects such as your children’s living arrangements, finances, schooling and visiting rights.

If you need additional support to reach an agreement, you can approach an expert mediator, family lawyer or your child welfare authority. If you are unable to agree in this way and you need to go to court, EU rules will help to determine which court is the right one to hear your case. Once the court has decided on parental responsibility, its enforcement will be made easier in any other EU country.

LOST CHILDREN A child custody story of an immigrant family

As an immigrant to north finland Ester, originally from Africa, came to Oulu as an applicant for asylum at the end of 2010. She had previously lived in southern Europe, where she had become a victim of human trafficking. Ester had a 5year old daughter with her. At that time she was also pregnant. Her baby was born at the beginning of 2011. Once, while living in the Oulu Reception Center in Heikinharju, Ester’s daughter complained about a physical pain.

Ester sought help for her child, and so she took her daughter to see a . The confirmed that the child had an injury. At the same time, the suspicion of mistreatment began. The child was taken immediately into custody before the charge of mistreatment was proven medically. Ester did not understand why she and her child should get separated. Heli, Support person It came as a complete surprise to the mum.

The mother said that, the didn’t say anything like that! You first have to investigate. I’m not giving my daughter away. Why should you take her away from me? A SUDDEN CUSTODY PLACEMENT Two days later, social workers came to Ester and told her that her firstborn daughter will not be returned to her. The distraught mother started to shout and cry. With the help of the police, the Finnish authorities who were accustomed to more discreet behavior.

Immediately removed the fivemonth child and placed her into foster care. Ester was alleged of being aggressive during the visit of the authorities. There are discrepancies between the written record of events and accounts of the witnesses. The frantic mother reportedly threw her baby in the presence of the social workers. Another worker present at that time said however, that nothing like throwing took place. The Child Welfare social workers describe the event in a very wild manner.

They said the mother was holding the baby by one leg and throwing her to the air. According to one social worker they caught the baby in the air while the mother was throwing her up and down, but according to another social worker the mother was lying on the floor with the baby and they took her off the floor. However, according to the mother she gave the baby to a reception centre staff member to hold before she started crying, because in African culture they think that it is not appropriate to cry whilst holding a baby. In the beginning, it was promised that Ester would be allowed to visit her baby at the Onnela children’s home every day.

After the shouting episode, visitations were canceled. Ester pumped and bottled her breast milk, but had not been allowed to meet the infant for about a month nor her firstborn daughter for four months. In the time that passed until their next meeting the firstborn daughter had already forgotten English. During the investigation of the alleged mistreatment, the children were placed into foster care with a family that already had many children.

Lokakuunliike (october movement) found out that the one of the foster parents is employed as an authority with a connection to child protective services in oulu. Ester still does not have the right to know the location of her children because the social workers involved in her case suspect that she would try to kidnap her own children. CHURCH AS A REFUGE According to rpd Kovcs, Pastor responsible for international work, child protective services has made many errors in handling Ester’s case.

The first thought that rises is that it is really difficult to believe that the aim of the Child Protection measures is to reunite the family at some point. It’s really hard to believe. This was a strange reaction from a white, middleclass Finnish person that led to the Child Protection authorities ‘bouncing off the walls’. I also think that when the social authorities don’t have anything else to say they pull out the card,.

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