ref.: HC/E/FI 360 [27/12/1996; Supreme Court of Finland; Superior Appellate Court] Supreme Court of Finland: 1996: 151, S96/2489

Unofficial English Translation

The original text in Finnish follows the English Translation

Supreme Court of Finland: 1996:151

Return of a child

Docket no. S 96/2489

Presented on 11 December 1996

Archive no. 5067

Handed down on 27 December 1996

The mother had without the consent of the father removed their children from the family home in France to Finland. The children were ordered to be returned to France to the joint custody of the parents.

Child Custody and Right of Access Act, section 34(1)(2)

Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3 and Article 11


Petition to the Court of Appeal of Helsinki

In a petition filed with the Court of Appeal of Helsinki, A stated that, on 6 June 1996, his spouse B had without the consent of A transferred their children C, a daughter born in 1993, and D, a son born in 1994, from the family home in France to Finland and, regardless of exhortations, had failed to return the children to their home in France. Hence, B had violated the A�s right of custody as the father of the children.

Accordingly, A requested that the Court of Appeal would order that the children be at once returned to France.


B stated that, on the basis of what C had been talking about, she had begun to suspect that A had abused C sexually. For this reason, B had travelled with the children to Finland to safety. Examinations carried out in Finland and an expert opinion of a psychologist in a family advice bureau reinforced her suspicions and made it impossible to contemplate that the children and the father would live together. As a matter of fact, the father would not even be capable of taking care of little children who had for all their life been in the care of their mother. The relationship of the spouses had become even more strained and it was impossible for them to live in the same household. Hence, there was a barrier to the return of the children, as referred to in section 34(1)(2) of the Child Custody and Right of Access Act. Moreover, C had begun to undergo therapy in Finland and this therapy should not be forcibly interrupted. Under the circumstances, the return of the children would be contrary to their best interests and hence a breach of Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, made in New York on 20 November 1989.


A stated that the allegations made by B and the resulting examinations carried out in Finland should be contemplated with some misgivings. Nevertheless, B�s allegations should be investigated. In view of the best interests and legal security of the children and of the legal security of A it was important that this investigation be carried out in the state where the family home has been. The authorities of the state of habitual residence could take the best interests of the children into account as competently as the Finnish authorities. Accordingly, A reaffirmed his request that the children be ordered to be at once returned to France.

Order of the Court of Appeal, 8 November 1996

The Court of Appeal noted that, under section 30 of the Child Custody and Right of Access Act, a child in Finland who has been wrongfully removed from his/her state of habitual residence, or wrongfully retained, shall be ordered to be at once returned, if the child immediately before the wrongful removal or retention has been habitually resident in a contracting state of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, made in The Hague on 25 October 1980 (the Hague Convention). Under section 32 of the said Act, the removal or retention of the child is to be deemed wrongful if it is in breach of rights of custody, attributed to a person, either jointly or alone, under the law of the state where the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention and those rights were actually exercised at the time of removal or retention.

The return of a child under the Hague Convention is intended to be a straightforward and expeditious procedure, whose sole purpose is to decide whether the child is ordered to be returned to his/her state of habitual residence. In the assessment of the need for return, the question of how the custody of children should be arranged in their best interests is not relevant. Hence, the order of the Court of Appeal does not contain any position as to how the custody of the children may be arranged in another context.

It is an undisputed fact in this case that immediately before the removal of the children they have been habitually resident in France, which is a contracting state of the Hague Convention. It is likewise undisputed that A has rights of custody to the children, as referred to in the legislation, and that he has actually exercised those rights at the time of removal, as well as that he has not consented to the removal of the children from France. Hence, the removal of the children is to be deemed wrongful in the sense of section 32 of the Child Custody and Right of Access Act.

According to section 34 of the Child Custody and Right of Access Act, if a petition for the return of a child has been filed before one year has passed from the wrongful removal of the child, the petition may be dismissed only if there is a grave risk that the return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation, or if the court finds that the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and level of maturity at which it is appropriate to take account of his/her views.

B has put forward allegations and expert opinions supporting said allegations which in themselves would constitute arguments against A�s custody of the children. Nevertheless, the evaluation of the credibility of the allegations, and only subsequently their effect on the custody arrangements, are matters properly considered in legal proceedings on the custody of the children.

The issues raised by B, as they have been presented to the Court of Appeal, cannot be deemed to be grounds for the dismissal of the petition as referred to in section 34 of the Act.

Furthermore, the Court of Appeal held that neither child had attained an age or level of maturity at which it would be appropriate to take account of their views, and hence the ascertainment of their views was unnecessary.

Under French law, A and B had joint custody of the children during their marriage.

For these reasons, the Court of Appeal ordered that the children be returned to France to the joint custody of the spouses.

Decided by Justices Matti Kuusim�ki, Antila and Leskinen. Referendary: Terhi Mattila.


B has repeated the requests submitted to the Court of Appeal.

A has responded to the appeal.


Statement of reasons

B has alleged that the returning of the children to France would expose them to physical and psychological harm. To support this allegation she has submitted an expert opinion of Ms Mirja Sampila, psychologist at the family advice bureau of Tampere; according to the opinion, a considerable amount of reinforcement has arisen during the therapy sessions of C for the suspicions of the mother that the father has sexually abused the child. On the other hand, it is noted in the opinion that the accounts given by the child do not offer a clear picture of what exactly has happened, but that in the playing and talking of the child there are indicators that something of a sexual nature causing confusion and anxiety has taken place. Ms Sampila has considered it inconceivable that the child would come to unsupervised contact to her father before the matter has been conscientiously clarified and taken care of. In addition, Ms Sampila has considered it important that the therapy is not interrupted too soon, but that C has time to anticipate the conclusion of the therapy and to deal with the emotions involved. Moreover, B has submitted an expert opinion of Tuula Tamminen, Professor of Child Psychology at the University of Tampere, where it is stated that C has probably experienced abuse of a sexual nature before coming to Finland and that she suffers from a clear, partially severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. It is vital for the mental health of C that the therapy that she is undergoing at the family advice bureau of Tampere continues long enough.

If the suspicions of the mother are justified, the return of C to her father could expose her to physical or psychological harm. When considering whether the allegations constitute a barrier to returning the child, as provided in the legislation, it should be noted that one of the objectives of the Hague Convention is that the forum of disputes concerning children is not changed at will, but that the credibility of allegations as to the personal characteristics of the petitioner is most properly investigated in the spouses� common state of habitual residence. In addition, it should be noted that there is a grave danger that the children are exposed to the harm referred to in the Act only if the mother does not return to France with them. Such danger does not arise if the mother returns with the children and sees to it that their living conditions are arranged to their best interests. If she considers it necessary, she has also the opportunity to have the French authorities to take measures for the protection of the children. Accordingly, there is no barrier to the return of the children, as referred to in section 34(1)(2) of the Child Custody and Right of Access Act.

B has alleged also that the return of the children would be contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, made in New York on 20 November 1989, Article 3 of which notes that in all actions undertaken by courts of law the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration. It is not in the best interests of C if her therapy is forcibly interrupted in conflict with the expert opinions submitted by B.

According to Article 11 of the said Convention, the states parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad. To this end, states parties shall promote the conclusion of bilateral and multilateral agreements or accession to existing agreements. Thus, even according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child it is to be deemed basically to the best interests of the children that they are returned to their state of habitual residence. On the other hand, evidence has been offered in the matter that C would be in continued need of the therapy she is undergoing in Finland. A has taken measures for the return of the children already in the late summer of 1996. Hence, B and the psychologist treating C have had several months to prepare C for a return to her state of habitual residence. B has had time also for the practical arrangements of the said return. An order on the return of a child is not a ruling going to child custody, but merely a measure for making sure that the matter of custody can be considered by a court of the habitual residence of the child. For these reasons, the Supreme Court holds that the returning of C and D to France to the joint custody of the parents is not contrary to the best interests of the children as referred to in Article 3 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

For these reasons, and otherwise for the reasons supplied in the order of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court has ruled on the matter as follows:

Operative part

The order of the Court of Appeal is upheld.

Decided by President Heinonen and Justices Haarmann, Krook, Tulokas and Vuori. Referendary: Mirja-Leena Nurmi


Lapsen palauttaminen

Diaarinumero S 96/2489

Esittelyp�iv� 11.12.1996

Taltionumero 5067

Antop�iv� 27.12.1996

�iti oli ilman is�n suostumusta vienyt puolisoiden yhteiset lapset perheen Ranskassa olevasta kodista Suomeen. Lapset m��r�ttiin palautettavaksi Ranskaan vanhempien yhteiseen huoltoon.

L lapsen huollosta ja tapaamisoikeudesta 34_�_1_mom_2_kohta Lapsen oikeuksia koskeva yleissopimus 3_artikla, 11_artikla


Hakemus Helsingin hovioikeudessa

A lausui Helsingin hovioikeuteen toimittamassaan hakemuksessa, ett� h�nen aviopuolisonsa B oli ilman A:n suostumusta 6.6.1996 vienyt puolisoiden yhteiset lapset, vuonna 1993 syntyneen tyt�n C ja vuonna 1994 syntyneen pojan D, perheen Ranskassa olevasta kodista Suomeen eik� ollut kehoituksista huolimatta palauttanut lapsia kotiinsa Ranskaan. B oli siten loukannut A:lle lasten is�n� kuuluvia huoltajan oikeuksia.

Sen vuoksi A pyysi, ett� hovioikeus m��r�isi lapset heti palautettavaksi kotiinsa A:n luokse Ranskaan.


B lausui, ett� h�n oli C:n puheiden vuoksi ruvennut ep�ilem��n, ett� A oli k�ytt�nyt C:t� seksuaalisesti hyv�kseen. Sen vuoksi B oli l�htenyt lasten kanssa Suomeen turvaan. Suomessa tehdyt tutkimukset ja perheneuvolan psykologin lausunto vahvistivat h�nen ep�ilyj��n ja oli mahdotonta ajatella, ett� lapset ja is� asuisivat kesken��n. Is� ei edes suoriutuisi koko ik�ns� �idin hoidossa olleiden pienten lasten hoidosta. Puolisoiden v�lit olivat entisest��nkin tulehtuneet ja heid�n oli mahdotonta asua yhteisess� taloudessa. Lasten palauttamiselle oli siten olemassa lapsen huollosta ja tapaamisoikeudesta annetun lain 34 �:n 1 momentin 2 kohdassa tarkoitettu este. Lis�ksi C tarvitsi edelleen Suomessa aloitettua terapiahoitoa, jota ei saisi v�kivaltaisesti katkaista. Lasten palauttaminen n�iss� olosuhteissa olisi lasten edun ja siten New Yorkissa 20.11.1989 tehdyn lapsen oikeuksia koskevan yleissopimuksen 3 artiklan vastaista.


A lausui, ett� B:n v�itteisiin ja niiden johdosta Suomessa tehtyihin tutkimuksiin t�ytyi suhtautua varauksellisesti. B:n esitt�m�t v�itteet oli kuitenkin syyt� tutkia. Lasten edun ja oikeussuojan ja A:n oikeussuojan kannalta oli t�rke�� tutkia ne siell�, miss� perheen yhteinen koti on ollut. Perheen kotipaikan viranomaiset pystyv�t yht� hyvin kuin suomalaiset viranomaiset ottamaan huomioon lasten edun. Sen vuoksi A toisti vaatimuksensa siit�, ett� lapset v�litt�m�sti m��r�t��n palautettaviksi Ranskaan.

Hovioikeuden p��t�s 8.11.1996

Hovioikeus totesi, ett� lasten huollosta ja tapaamisoikeudesta annetun lain 30 �:n mukaan Suomessa oleva lapsi, joka on luvattomasti viety pois siit� valtiosta, jossa lapsella on asuinpaikka, taikka j�tetty luvattomasti palauttamatta, on m��r�tt�v� heti palautettavaksi, jos lapsella v�litt�m�sti ennen luvatonta poisviemist� tai palauttamista oli asuinpaikka valtiossa, joka on Haagissa 25.10.1980 kansainv�lisest� lapsikaappauksesta tehdyn yksityisoikeuden alaa koskevan yleissopimuksen (Haagin sopimus) osapuoli. Edell� mainitun lain 32 �:n mukaan lapsen poisviemist� tai palauttamatta j�tt�mist� on pidett�v� luvattomana, jos se loukkaa lapsen huoltoa koskevia oikeuksia, jotka kuuluvat henkil�lle, joko yksin tai yhdess�, sen valtion oikeusj�rjestyksen mukaan, miss� lapsella v�litt�m�sti ennen poisviemist� tai palauttamatta j�tt�mist� on ollut asuinpaikka ja n�it� oikeuksia on poisviemisen tai palauttamatta j�tt�misen hetkell� tosiasiallisesti k�ytetty.

Lapsen palauttaminen Haagin sopimuksen nojalla on tarkoitettu yksinkertaiseksi ja nopeaksi menettelyksi, jonka tarkoituksena on ainoastaan ratkaista, m��r�t��nk� lapsi palautettavaksi omaan asuinpaikkavaltioonsa. Palautuksen tarvetta harkittaessa ei tule ratkaistavaksi se seikka, miten lasten edun mukaisesti heid�n huoltonsa on j�rjestett�v�. Hovioikeuden p��t�ksess� ei siten mill��n tavoin oteta kantaa siihen, miten lasten huolto ehk� muussa yhteydess� m��r�t��n.

Asiassa on riidatonta, ett� lasten asuinpaikka v�litt�m�sti ennen poisviemist� on ollut Ranska, joka on Haagin sopimuksen osapuoli. Samoin on riidatonta, ett� A:lla on lain tarkoittamat huoltajan oikeudet ja h�n on tosiasiallisesti my�s poisviemisen hetkell� k�ytt�nyt oikeuksiaan ja ett� lapset on viety pois Ranskasta ilman h�nen suostumustaan. Lasten poisviemist� oli siten pidett�v� lasten huollosta ja tapaamisoikeudesta annetun lain 32 �:n tarkoittamin tavoin luvattomana.

Lapsen huollosta ja tapaamisoikeudesta annetun lain 34 �:n mukaan, jos hakemus lapsen palauttamisesta on tehty ennen kuin vuosi on kulunut lapsen luvattomasta poisviemisest�, hakemus voidaan hyl�t� vain, jos on vakava vaara, ett� palauttaminen saattaisi lapsen alttiiksi ruumiillisille tai henkisille vaurioille tai ett� lapsi muutoin joutuisi siet�m�tt�miin olosuhteisiin, tai jos tuomioistuin toteaa lapsen, joka on saavuttanut sellaisen i�n ja kypsyyden, ett� lapsen mielipiteeseen on aiheellista kiinnitt�� huomiota, vastustavan palauttamista.

B on esitt�nyt v�itteit� ja my�s v�itteit��n tukevia asiantuntijalausuntoja, jotka sellaisinaan olisivat omiaan puhumaan A:n huoltajuutta vastaan. Mainittujen v�itteiden paikkansapit�vyyden ja vasta sen my�t� mahdollisen vaikutuksen arviointi kuuluu kuitenkin lasten huollosta k�yt�v��n oikeudenk�yntiin.

B:n esitt�mi� n�k�kohtia ei, sellaisina kuin ne on esitetty hovioikeudelle, voida pit�� edell� mainitun lain 34 �:ss� tarkoitettuna hakemuksen hylk��misperusteena.

Lis�ksi hovioikeus katsoi, ettei kumpikaan lapsista ollut saavuttanut sellaista ik�� tai kypsyytt�, ett� heid�n mielipiteisiins� asiassa olisi kiinnitett�v� huomiota eik� heid�n mielipiteidens� selvitt�minen asiassa siten ollut tarpeellista.

A ja B olivat Ranskan lakien nojalla avioliiton aikana yhdess� lastensa huoltajia.

N�ill� perusteilla hovioikeus m��r�si lapset palautettavaksi Ranskaan puolisoiden yhteiseen huoltoon.

Asian ovat ratkaisseet hovioikeuden j�senet Matti Kuusim�ki, Antila ja Leskinen. Esittelij� Terhi Mattila.


B on toistanut hovioikeudessa esitt�m�ns� vaatimukset.

A on vastannut valitukseen.



B on v�itt�nyt, ett� lasten palauttaminen Ranskaan saattaisi heid�t alttiiksi ruumiillisille ja henkisille vaurioille. V�itteens� tueksi h�n on esitt�nyt Tampereen kaupungin perheneuvolan psykologin Mirja Sampilan lausunnon, jonka mukaan C:n terapiahoidossa on ilmennyt paljon vahvistusta �idin ep�ilyille siit�, ett� is� on k�ytt�nyt lasta seksuaalisesti hyv�kseen. Toisaalta lausunnosta ilmenee, ettei lapsen kertomasta saa selv�� kuvaa siit�, mit� tarkalleen on tapahtunut, mutta sek� lapsen leikit ett� puheet todistavat jotakin h�mment�v�� ja ahdistavaa tapahtuneen seksuaalisuuden alueella. Sampila on pit�nyt mahdottomana ajatusta siit�, ett� lapsi joutuu is�ns� kanssa tekemisiin ilman valvontaa ennen kuin tilannetta on rauhassa selvitetty ja hoidettu. Sampila on pit�nyt t�rke�n� my�s sit�, ettei terapiahoitoa keskeytet� liian nopeasti, vaan ett� C saa aikaa ennakoida terapian lopettamisen ja k�sitell� rauhassa siihen liittyv�t tunteet. Lis�ksi B on esitt�nyt Tampereen yliopiston lastenpsykiatrian professorin Tuula Tammisen lausunnon, jonka mukaan C on ilmeisen todenn�k�isesti kokenut ennen Suomeen tuloaan seksuaalisuuteen liittyv�� hyv�ksik�ytt�� ja k�rsii selv�st�, osin vakavasta posttraumaattisesta stressih�iri�st�. C:n psyykkisen terveydentilan kannalta on olennaista, ett� aloitettu hoito Tampereen perheneuvolassa jatkuu riitt�v�n pitk��n.

Mik�li �idin ep�ilyt pit�v�t paikkansa, C:n palauttaminen is�ns� luokse voisi saattaa h�net alttiiksi ruumiillisille ja henkisille vaurioille. Harkittaessa sit�, muodostavatko v�itteet lain tarkoittaman esteen lasten palauttamiselle, on otettava huomioon, ett� Haagin yleissopimuksella on pyritty muun ohessa siihen, ettei lasta koskevien riitojen oikeuspaikkaa omavaltaisesti muuteta, ja ett� hakijan henkil�kohtaisiin ominaisuuksiin liittyvien v�itteiden paikkansapit�vyys voidaan parhaiten todeta perheen yhteisess� asuinpaikassa. Lis�ksi on otettava huomioon, ett� lapset voivat olla vakavassa vaarassa joutua alttiiksi lain tarkoittamille vaurioille vain, jos lasten �iti ei palaa heid�n mukanaan Ranskaan. T�llaista vaaraa ei ole, jos �iti palaa lasten mukana ja huolehtii siit�, ett� lasten asuminen j�rjestet��n heid�n etunsa mukaiseksi. H�nell� on tuolloin mahdollisuus huolehtia my�s siit�, ett� Ranskan viranomaiset ryhtyv�t tarvittaessa toimiin lasten suojelemiseksi. Lasten palauttamiselle ei siten ole lasten huollosta ja tapaamisoikeudesta annetun lain 34 �:n 1 momentin 2 kohdassa tarkoitettua estett�.

B on v�itt�nyt my�s, ett� lasten palauttaminen olisi vastoin New Yorkissa 20.11.1989 tehty� lapsen oikeuksia koskevaa yleissopimusta, jonka 3 artiklan mukaan kaikissa tuomioistuimen toimissa on otettava huomioon lapsen etu. C:n edun mukaista ei ole, jos h�nen terapiahoitonsa vastoin annettuja asiantuntijalausuntoja v�kivaltaisesti katkaistaan.

Mainitun yleissopimuksen 11 artiklan mukaan sopimusvaltiot ovat sitoutuneet ryhtym��n toimiin ehk�ist�kseen lasten laittomat maastakuljetukset ja ulkomailta palauttamatta j�tt�miset. T�ss� tarkoituksessa sopimusvaltiot ovat sitoutuneet edist�m��n asiaa koskevien kansainv�listen sopimusten aikaansaamista sek� liittymist� jo voimassa oleviin sopimuksiin. Lapsen oikeuksia koskevan yleissopimuksenkin mukaan on siten pidett�v� l�ht�kohtaisesti lasten edun mukaisena sit�, ett� heid�t palautetaan asuinmaahansa. Toisaalta asiassa on esitetty selvityst� siit�, ett� C tarvitsisi edelleen Suomessa aloitettua terapiahoitoa. A on ryhtynyt toimiin lasten palauttamiseksi jo loppukes�st� 1996. B:ll� ja C:t� hoitavalla psykologilla on siten ollut useita kuukausia aikaa valmistaa C:t� siihen, ett� lapset palaavat takaisin asuinmaahansa. B:ll� on ollut aikaa ryhty� my�s asian vaatimiin k�yt�nn�n j�rjestelyihin. Lapsen palauttamista koskeva p��t�s ei ole lapsen huoltoa koskeva ratkaisu, vaan sill� varmistetaan vain se, ett� huoltoasia voidaan tutkia lapsen asuinpaikan tuomioistuimessa. N�ill� perusteilla Korkein oikeus katsoo, ettei C:n ja D:n palauttaminen Ranskaan vanhempien yhteishuoltoon ole lapsen oikeuksia koskevan yleissopimuksen 3 artiklan tarkoittamalla tavalla vastoin lasten etua.

N�ill� ja muutoin hovioikeuden p��t�ksess� mainituilla perusteilla Korkein oikeus on ratkaissut asian p��t�slauselmasta ilmenev�ll� tavalla.


Hovioikeuden p��t�st� ei muuteta.

Asian ovat ratkaisseet presidentti Heinonen sek� oikeusneuvokset Haarmann, Krook, Tulokas ja Vuori. Esittelij� Mirja-Leena Nurmi.

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