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Family law in Poland - want the Polish children back to the Irish courts


Number 47 1 | 12
16 Dec 2015 #1
Hi guys,

My partner of 10 years has abducted our 2 children to Poland, we are unmarried and have lived in Ireland since the kids were born, I am a UK national, she is Polish and the kids have Irish passports. A few days prior to the abduction my daughter mentioned they were going to Poland, we were having difficulties and alarm bells went off in my head. I went to court and got a date for a guardianship agreement, I then served her the papers and she was gone 3 days later. I have started an application for a return of child case with the central authority through the Hague convention legislation, I am not seeking custody but I want the children brought back for the Irish courts to decide, the kids have only been in Poland for summers, they speak polish but cannot write or read. They are 8 and 6 years old. Their whole life was here.

Any advice would be gratefully received, recommended lawyers, outcomes, examples etc.

If the Hague convention is not successful, what is it like for foreign nationals dealing with the family courts in Poland, would it help if I moved there, I lived there for 18 months in 97 and speak and understand a fair bit.

Sorry about my punctuation, question mark key is not working.
delphiandomine 83 | 17,798
16 Dec 2015 #2
Harry will be along in a bit, but frankly speaking - your best bet is to find a private detective willing to take them out of Poland. Once they're out of Poland, you can use the guardianship papers to ensure their return to Ireland. Poland will not respect the Hague Convention, and you can expect the Polish family courts to believe any old garbage she tells them.
Dougpol1 33 | 3,409
16 Dec 2015 #3
what is it like for foreign nationals dealing with the family courts in Poland

I know a bit about this, having been involved in a case study.....

Really sorry to hear about this, it's going to be something like:

Ist hearing: The court ascertains the facts......
2nd hearing: The court decides on the legality of: ie: she gets awarded custody unless she is certified insane etc
3rd hearing: You have to prove you are a good dad to get access (unless she grants you access from the off ....)

If she opposes you normal rights, then you would only get visits at her location, in the presence of a court witness, and at that only a pitiful number of hours a month..

The Polish system is DISGUSTINGLY biased towards the mother against foreigners... so if at all possible try to understand why your wife would do such a thing - and keep the courts out of it as much as you can. They will find for her every step of the way, and you and your children will suffer.

I bloody hope I am SO wrong and that everything will work out fine. Sorry for the wholly negative post - but if your wife wants to play silly buggers you DO have a major problem here.

Number 9 - PM me tomorrow please. I will telephone the human rights lawyer I was doing a reading for, and see if they are willing to talk to you and point you in the right direction. Said person is very nice so I hope they can help you..
terri 1 | 1,660
17 Dec 2015 #4
Does your name appear on the birth certificates?
Are you paying for the upkeep of the children (even without a court order)?
Firstly, collect ALL EVIDENCE you can to prove you are the father - you may then have some rights. Very difficult to enforce this in Poland.

The children themselves do not have to physically appear in any Court. The Court judgement is what counts.
Ironside 49 | 10,030
17 Dec 2015 #5
My partner

Polish courts are ruling almost always in favor of the mother, the fact you are not married give you 0 chances to win this. Unless she is insane, alcoholic or a drug addict and you are not.
Pol attorney 2 | 106
18 Dec 2015 #6
In fact, Polish Family Courts are obliged by law to implement and apply all the provisions of the Hague Convention, because Poland is a party to this agreement. And international agreements are a formal source of law, just like Polish acts.

If the children were kidnapped (or taken to Poland without your permission), the Hague Convention may be applied depending on the date when the kids were kidnapped and a few other details. In fact, in some cases the Polish Court may force the mother of the child to return to Ireland with the kids or even take them away from her so that the Irish court could make a decision on custody. Besides, the Polish Court may issue a contact order, so that you could have regular contact with your children (for example, on-line skype contact, personal contact with kids every two weeks on weekends in Poland, the right to take kids to your flat in Poland, etc. ).

I am a lawyer based in Poland, so I think that I might be able to help you with this problem.

If you are still interested, you can send me a private message on the forum, and we might be able to proceed with your case.:))
delphiandomine 83 | 17,798
18 Dec 2015 #7
I think the post above should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Trying to give false hope to a potential client is about the worst thing you can do - we all know that Poland doesn't respect the Hague Convention, as well as applying random and arbitrary judgements even when the Hague Convention clearly applies.
Pol attorney 2 | 106
18 Dec 2015 #8
I am not giving him false hope, just REAL hope. There are problems with Polish Courts, but THIS DOES NOT MEAN in any way that there is no hope. It is possible to convince the judge to make a "relatively" favorable decision for him, even if he won't be given the right to take the kids back to Ireland for now.

perseverance is the name of the game, and with the new Polish PIS govt, judges and officials will work much, much better ...
delphiandomine 83 | 17,798
18 Dec 2015 #9
So you're admitting that the Polish court will simply ignore the Irish court ruling.

My opinion stands - the best bet is to get them somehow across the Polish border in any direction and then immediately get in touch with the local police.
OP Number 47 1 | 12
18 Dec 2015 #10
Quite scary opinions of the Polish courts. I don't want to put my kids through being grabbed by someone and taken. Very distressing for them. The kids were taken last Saturday. I had served her with a summons for a guardianship hearing 3 days prior. So far I have sent all required documents to the central authority here in Ireland, I was only able to provide the block number and external door of her parents address using street view, I don't know the apartment number. There are probably 20 apartments using that entrance.

I am named as father on their birth certs, I have no chance to pay maintenence yet, it has not yet been a week and I have no contact, I believe she is at her parents house in Slaskie.

I'm not confident in my chances using the hague convention but it is worth a try. I appreciate the offers of legal help but the hague convention appears to be pretty clear cut, they will either apply it as it should be applied or it will fail. They will be sent home or something else will be decided. I have to wait for papers to be shuffled and no doubt it will be well into february by then due to christmas. I am in court here in January so I see no issue in having a guardianship order in place before anything comes to court in Poland, especially if she fails to show up here and I tell the judge she fled.

Has anyone any actual stories of similar cases and how they have worked out.

If I'm honest, skype and the odd visit would be a great start. It would be an amazing improvement on the situation I am in now.
Atch 17 | 3,005
18 Dec 2015 #11
In fact

You mean in theory, in reality it's rather different.

you could have regular contact with your children (for example, on-line skype contact, personal contact with kids every two weeks on weekends in Poland, the right to take kids to your flat in Poland, etc. ).

He could but it's quite likely he won't. You know quite well that if the mother doesn't want the father to see the child, she will ignore the court ruling and there's very little the father can do to enforce it.

@Number 47 I'm sorry to say that it's common for Polish mothers to use various excuses to get round such rulings. You've arranged a Skype call and:

a) nobody picks up
b) mother picks up, child is not home, he's gone to a birthday party, friend's house, on a school trip etc etc
c) child doesn't want to talk to you
d) child is sick

You've arranged a visit:

a)Nobody home when you arrive to collect child/nobody turns up at arranged meeting place
b)Someone opens door with the chain on, peeps out, child is not home/doesn't want to see you
c)visit is cancelled at the last minute, child is sick, mother will even produce doctor's note to prove it, doctors have been known to issue notes to perfectly healthy children

I have no chance to pay maintenence yet, it has not yet been a week and I have no contact,

Yes, and she may try to keep it that way so that you can't pay anything, then go to court and ask to have your parental rights removed on the basis that you don't maintain the children and you don't see them.

Sadly I wouldn't put much faith in the Polish courts but if you want to choose that option, I would pursue it to the utmost. The PolAttorney is right when he says that perseverance is necessary.

The only thing I can advise is to do your best to try to maintain some contact with the children in the meantime. You may find that she will relent to some degree, probably after Christmas and may allow you some phone contact at least. I know they're very young but they've had the most important years of their development with you, between birth and six. They've bonded with you, they are emotionally attached to you and that counts for a great deal. She won't find it easy to undermine that, truly she won't.
terri 1 | 1,660
18 Dec 2015 #12
@Number 47
Please read Polish newspapers from a few days ago. A father married to the mother of a child (but separated from her) arranged a kidnapping of the child and is now in prison for at least 6 months while they decide his fate.

Before you commit a criminal act, make sure you know EXACTLY the consequences of any such actions.

You have to wait until January before you get a decision from the Irish Courts. If they say that you must have contact with the children and you can PROVE that the mother is preventing you from doing so, then take her to Court again.

As it stands now - the mother can say that she has taken the children to Poland for Christmas, like she has done before and you never complained.

Make a note of dates and actions taken on any date, so that when you go before a Court you have PROOF of what has been going on. Keep copies of all emails, phone conversations, texts etc. This is all EVIDENCE.
Pol attorney 2 | 106
18 Dec 2015 #13
You know quite well that if the mother doesn't want the father to see the child, she will ignore the court ruling and there's very little the father can do to enforce it.

well, much can be done to force the mother of the child to implement a polish court decision, for example, a father can threaten her with big financial penalties if she refuses to give him contact with the child; in fact after some time , a Polish court will issue warnings and then will impose heavy financial penalties on the mother who refuses to implement a contact order on her end. Mom's excueses will not work in the long term -- but it's true that moms will always try to find an excuse of some sort. that's why it's always necessary to persevere and not get discouraged.
Harry
18 Dec 2015 #14
I appreciate the offers of legal help but the hague convention appears to be pretty clear cut, they will either apply it as it should be applied or it will fail.

It does apply; the problem will be the number of Polish courts you will need to go to before one agrees that it does apply. Eventually you will win, but it could well cost you a lot of money and a lot of time.

Personally I'd be contacting the guards and reporting her for kidnapping; her taking the kids out of the country without your permission is a crime, and one for which a European arrest warrant can (and should) be issued. It'll be hard for her to argue before a Polish court that you're a violent alcoholic drug addict and so should have no contact with your kids if she's locked up in an Irish nick.
Pol attorney 2 | 106
18 Dec 2015 #15
So you're admitting that the Polish court will simply ignore the Irish court ruling.

absolutely not true, in fact, Polish courts are obliged by law to enforce decisions made by foreign courts as long as they meet certain requirements specified by Polish law (for example, a defendant should be given a chance to participate in the proceedings, should be served with court documents, etc.) article of the code of civil procedure is very specific here.

It will be necessary to prepare some paperwork, it will take some time and effort, but at the end of the day, a foreign court decision will be implemented in Poland (90% chance).

There are no simple solutions in international cases.
terri 1 | 1,660
18 Dec 2015 #16
I still believe that the mother could say that she took the children as normal (she does this every year with no problems) to Poland for Christmas. You then do not have a leg to stand on. The children MUST be on her passport (or have own passports) to get through the borders.

It is extremely unlikely that the mother took all her and the childrens' possessions with her to Poland when she went. The court may believe that (if there are any possessions left) she intends to come back. You cannot PROVE that she is not intending to do that.

You are on a sticky wicket. I do not understand why you are not married - you would then be in a better position. The main thing is to have EVIDENCE why she did not want to marry you, that you have provided for her and the children and that you have never abused her or the children financially, physically or mentally. You need to be getting evidence to show that you are coming to court with clean hands.
Ant63 11 | 403
18 Dec 2015 #17
your best bet is to find a private detective willing to take them out of Poland

Tell me you are kidding. Thats the worst thing to do. Really poor advice.

Trust in the Hague. My partner and I won because the court has to respect the Hague. They of course will try anything to use Polish Law, but be strong, tell them they are wrong, and that they should seek advice from the Supreme Court before taking the wrong path.

Your first port of call should be reunite.org They will provide you with all you need information wise. Most Polish lawyers don't have a clue and will see you as a cash cow. Be careful. Your position is extremely strong. Don't panic and think through everything you do before you do it. It is important you look good to the Polish court. If you need someone to talk to that been through the Polish system, contact me through this site.

Eventually you will win, but it could well cost you a lot of money and a lot of time.

It needn't cost you a fortune. In your situation 2/3 court appearances should suffice. Just don't spend money without a very good reason. Get your Hague application in without delay. It will most likely be returned as they have to find fault with it. Its the Polish way. You should be in court within 3 months and I would like to think they would be back well inside 6 months. Prepare yourself for some hideous accusations from your ex. Worse than you can image as the only defence is Article 13 which says a child cannot be returned to a place of danger.

I wish you good luck.
Harry
19 Dec 2015 #18
Trust in the Hague. My partner and I won because the court has to respect the Hague.

I'm really glad you've posted in this thread. I was looking for your contact details to ask you to come and contribute here.

It needn't cost you a fortune. In your situation 2/3 court appearances should suffice.

That's good to hear (two or three is a much lower number than I thought would be needed, or do you mean there will only be two or three he needs to attend?)

I still believe that the mother could say that she took the children as normal (she does this every year with no problems) to Poland for Christmas.

What you believe is completely wrong. Regardless of the reason, taking kids outside of the country without the permission of the other parent is a crime.

The court may believe that (if there are any possessions left) she intends to come back. You cannot PROVE that she is not intending to do that.

He needs to prove no such thing.
rozumiemnic 8 | 3,675
19 Dec 2015 #19
your best bet is to find a private detective willing to take them out of Poland.

I think that might count as 'emotional and physical abuse' tbh Delph.
OP Number 47 1 | 12
19 Dec 2015 #20
Thanks for the replies guys.

She has taken everything and cancelled all the utilities on the house, electric, internet, bins etc. So this demonstrates her intentions. The Hague convention documents are received in Dublin, I sent it all registered post. Emailed the required photos etc, so that is done. The kids have never been to Poland for Christmas, only summer holidays, they have their own individual Irish passports.

Ant63.
Thanks for the link to reunite, I will be reading all they have after I type this. I am currently off work sick on illness benefit so have had to apply for legal aid in both countries. My illness is partly the reason she fled.

I'm afraid she has some ammo regarding abusive behaviour. I have been an alcoholic 23 years, since I was a teenager, this came to a head 3 years ago when our relationship took a turn for the worst, we were fighting like cat and dog and one day when I was roaring drunk I pulled her by the hair. I was shocked at myself and I left the home right there and then, she applied for a barring order at that time. I spent some time living elsewhere and put myself through a residential treatment program. I came out sober, retrained in a new career as I worked in bars and our lives improved exponentially. No order was awarded. We were back together fairly soon and the next 3 years were excellent. We bought this house only 6 months ago and things were great between us. Then I became depressed, turns out that alcoholism wasn't my only issue, I have been diagnosed as being Bipolar, the doctor gave me anti depressants the first time I presented and they sent me crazy, (this is common in bipolar, it cases a hypomanic response)

I have a letter from the doctor confirming the misdiagnosis and reaction to wrong meds. I am now on the correct medication and the prognosis is good. Still, there was no abuse, there are a few text messages where I called her useless and a moron and that I wanted her to leave. (I didn't, my brain wasn't right.) That is all. They could be construed as abusive but there is no threat of violence and no violence involved.

I am not proud of myself, I had been a ****** partner for many years due to my alcoholism, I was never anything but a good father, I was abused as a child by my own father and it made me very aware of my responsibilities to my kids. I don't want to make her life unhappy, I don't bear her any ill will. This bipolar thing came out of left field, as far as I was concerned I had put my issues behind me after getting sober but apparently substance abuse goes hand in hand with bipolar. 3 months ago we were very happy, we just bought our first house and were in a better position than we had ever been in life, then the depression started.

My defence has to be honest, I will not falsify, garnish or twist the truth. I made great attempts to turn my life around and succeeded. I guess I have to hope that demonstrating my progress will be enough, I doubt it but I will have to live with whatever consequences I have brought upon myself. She is a good mother, I understand her need to do something as I was refusing to go back to work and telling her to leave. Since getting the right treatment I have taken steps to return to work and hope to do so in the new year.

Any idea how the polish courts will view this?
Ironside 49 | 10,030
19 Dec 2015 #21
Any idea how the polish courts will view this?

Well what do you think? You are not married and you are an alcoholic with undelaying issues, How the irish courts would view this?
Are you trolling?
OP Number 47 1 | 12
19 Dec 2015 #22
@ironside

Never saw the point in getting married, we are not religious. With guardianship I have the same rights as a married man, without having to go through a 5 year process to get a divorce.

I am a recovered alcoholic and have not touched a drink in years. My underlying issue is a physiological disease that was undiagnosed and has a positive prognosis when treated correctly.

I can demonstrate great effort to deal with my issues and I do not pretend any different. Irish courts, like any sane person, would look at the work I have put in to resolve these problems over the last 3 years in a favorable light.

I am looking for help based on MY issue. I apologise if it does not fit into your preconceived viewpoint on who has rights to see their children but that is how it is.
Ironside 49 | 10,030
19 Dec 2015 #23
I am looking for help based on MY issue.

I don't see how anyone on those site can help you. I'm trying to convey to you in want light Polish courts might view your case.

I think she could have challenge your claims in the Irish courts with a good chance of success. However by absconding she put herself in the worse position and you might have your chance because of that, as she doesn't seem to be a wise person or a law smart at lest.

With guardianship I have the same rights as a married man,

I don't know how that concept is seen by the Polish law.
Nevertheless you need a lawyer not a forum.
OP Number 47 1 | 12
19 Dec 2015 #24
My apologies, I appreciate your input, I think I may have read more into your post than was intended. I am not expecting to get any concrete legal advice on here, I am getting lawyers in Poland and Ireland that will provide me with advice, I am using this forum for opinions and experience, I am trying to discern as much information as possible on the subject as I know nothing about it. I am also researching online, reading anything and everything regarding the subject to familiarise myself with the process.

I value honesty greatly, there is no point in me looking for information while claiming to be a glowing example of matrimony, I will hold my hands up to anything I have done wrong, it is probably not the best way to go about this but honesty is one of my redeeming features and I hope my honesty will stand me in good stead in court.

Regarding my personal problems, there is no person on this planet more fed up of them than me. I genuinely believed I had put these issues behind me 3 years ago. On a positive note, now I know what I am dealing with I can start dealing with it effectively. All I can do is be honest and show I am taking steps to rectify the issue and throw myself on the mercy of the courts.

The chips will fall where they fall I guess.
dolnoslask
19 Dec 2015 #25
Number47 Is there no way forward for you in terms of reconciliation with your wife, she has already stayed with you through the alcohol problems and you have been together for a long time.

Generally Polish families help and support their married siblings and consider marriage as something important and worth fighting for. My family had issues with a son in law, but we all helped him and his wife to heal their marriage.

Just wondering (and this may take some time and effort on your part) can you get in touch with her or her family in Poland, try and explain the success of your new new treatment.

Get that new Job in the new year, keep and maintain the house in the hope of their return, and prove your commitment to them. maybe email send pics etc.
terri 1 | 1,660
19 Dec 2015 #26
@Number47
It is a pity that you had not explained your position FULLY in the very first post. We would then not be guessing what you can and cannot do.

As things stand (and I'm playing the devil's advocate here) the mother can say that you have constantly for the last 10 years abused her and the children, have not provided for her and the children and she had no alternative but to finally escape from this situation.

You will have to prove to the Courts that she was wrong in doing what she did.
It seems strange that you did not know what she was planning - you should have acted sooner.
I cannot understand how she was able to take the children abroad without any written evidence from you that you agree to the trip.
You are on a sticky wicket due to your past - but should still fight...but it will be a long fight.
OP Number 47 1 | 12
19 Dec 2015 #27
@dolnoslask

I do hope we can reconcile, I love my partner and have been trying to make up for the years of alcoholism since getting treatment. I made great strides in that regard, right up until 2 months ago when this depression came like a ton of bricks from nowhere. Like I say, at least I now know how to deal with this and I am doing just that.

What you suggest is exactly what I am doing, I am having no joy in contacting her. I spoke to her sister but she is firmly on her side. I hope to return to work in the new year, I will go forward responsibly and try to show I am reliable, decent and stable under my new medication. I don't see this being an issue, I was all these things until this hit 2 months ago. I could not have been expected to deal with a medical issue I was not aware of having. How I proceed from here will show my metal as a man.

Reconciliation would be best for all and I am proceeding with this as my priority. So far I have sought treatment and am now medicated. I have taken measures to get back to my employment and am taking over all the bills here. She paid the bills I paid the mortgage. I have been in contact with a mens group that provide help with anger issues and will be voluntarily attending counselling. I am not really angry these days compared to when I was drinking but I will do anything to improve myself. I wanted to attend 3 years ago but there was no group in my locality, there is now.

I didn't really want to instigate Hague proceedings but without contact I thought it wise to get things moving as soon as possible. Just in case.

Thanks for your input.

@terri

Apologies, I had no intention to mislead. I am extraordinarily busy at the moment trying to get on top of many situations, I posted here as one line of enquiry. I did not intend to mislead or muddy the waters. As you can see, I have no issue with honesty. There is no point in asking for advice without the facts and I am providing those.

I know what you are saying about 10 years of sorrow. I have to hope that my behaviour in the preceeding 3 years will be recognised. I have always provided for my family, I have worked my ass off on this house since we bought it and kept a blog of all work I was doing. It is all dated and stamped. I pay the mortgage, I put down a hefty deposit. Proving my dedication is not an issue and I hope the previous years will be discounted on this basis, she stayed with me and was reaping the benefits.

Regarding not knowing, she was buying things for the house 2 days before my 7 year old said they were going to Poland. She denied this when asked. I wasn't sure but after thinking about it a few days and doing some research I decided the risk was too great and made an application to the court. I served her with the papers the next day, Wednesday. I tried to speak to her on Friday night about it and she just wanted me to sign the house into her name. Saturday morning she was gone. Less than a week from first suspecting.

As for how she can travel, Sexism, plain and simple. Everytime I travel alone with the children I am stopped and questioned, I am expected to have a document allowing me to travel from her. She travels freely and has for years without question. Just the way men are viewed it seems.

Thanks for the input. I hope this can be resolved simply, I don't look forward to the coming years if it is not. Even if things do not work out I suppose my son will come of an age soon where he will want an online presence. I will find a way to initiate contact if failed by the legal route. Not ideal, but at least better than days gone by. How people coped with these situations before the internet is beyond me.
dolnoslask
19 Dec 2015 #28
"How I proceed from here will show my metal as a man", I spent years of my youth barking up the wrong tree when it comes to knowing what it is to be a man, you are showing your metal here with your honesty humility and commitment to move forward positively.

One day she and your children will see this, keep moving forward no need to look back.
Pol attorney 2 | 106
19 Dec 2015 #29
Any idea how the polish courts will view this?

It will have some negative impact on your legal situation here in poland, but your rights as a father will be fully respected (including the right to keep contact on-line, via skype, the right to take children on your own to your flat in poland without their mom, etc). If you were not convicted in ireland (or any other country) for crimes or offences against children or similar crimes, I don't see any major obstacles. however, it may be difficult to take the kids back to Ireland.

However, you will need to collect and submit during the proceedings ALL the evidence regarding your medical treatments, reports from psychologists, etc. to prove conslusively that you are able to take care of children on your own.
OP Number 47 1 | 12
20 Dec 2015 #30
So she finally got in contact today, last night I sent her the tracking number for the hague convention documents so she could see it has been delivered to the department of justice. Today I got an email accusing me of all kinds of rubbish, a lot of it was clearly copied and pasted from some kind of domestic abuse website. Interesting development. I think I have a good defence against what she has written. I have responded offering third party mediation and pointing out the vague accusations are lies. I am trying to remain placatory but being called an abusive father is a bit much, she knows this is not true. She says the kids were neglected and suffering deprivation of their basic needs. Not sure where she is getting these ideas from, our kids are happy and want for nothing. I believe she is just giving some bluster and bluff due to finding out I was really going ahead with the legal avenue. She has opened a line of communication on her terms but no negotiating yet. I suppose this is a first step. I will not be dropping the Hague application until I see my kids back on Irish soil though.

I hope she starts coming to her senses soon. I am willing to do just about anything to see this sorted but not if I am going to have to face lies. I guess if she goes ahead with a plan to embellish this then it is going to be a lot more trouble. I am collecting any evidence I can and have started to write my version out. I will finish this and then go back through it bit by bit to see where I can perhaps find evidence to show my version is the truth.


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