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Child And Family In Private International Law


Course requirements

Master degree

Course information

This course focuses on the private international law aspects of international child and family law in the context of International Child Abduction, Intercountry Adoption, Cross-border Surrogacy and Cross-border Relocation. Thus, the key objectives of the course are to promote knowledge of, and to encourage specialisation in this area by taking into account the increasing mobility and internationalisation of the child and of the family. Rapid developments in the internationalisation of child and family law and problems arising from increased (family) mobility are resulting in the development of uniform guidelines for choice of law rules, such as those governed by treaties administered by the Hague Permanent Bureau. This course will therefore have an international focus, and draws on examples from Europe as well as other regions (Africa, Americans, etc.)

The focus, on the one hand, will be on the development, provisions, roles, implementation and the subject matter of the child related Hague Conventions, dealing with the different aspects of the internationalisation of child and family law, with particular attention to:

a. Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980) (Hague Abduction Convention);
b. Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (1993) (Hague Adoption Convention).
c. Cross border surrogacy and the possibilities of an international instrument on this matter.
d. International relocation disputes concerning children.
e. Cross border recovery of maintenance/child support.

Where relevant, the European context may be used to show that States can and do provide additional protection for children in these fields on a regional level.

Course objectives

The objectives of the course include:

  • Gaining insight into the (social) contexts of the issues discussed: intercountry adoption, child abduction, relocation, international recovery of child support/maintenance and international surrogacy.

  • Gaining insight into the contents and principles applicable to the Conventions, including subsidiarity in relation to intercountry adoption, safeguards and accreditation; and in relation to the Abduction Convention, principles such as habitual residence, rights of custody, wrongful removal and prompt return;

  • Understanding the mechanisms established for international co-operation such as the Central Authorities, the Malta Process, Liaison judges and judicial communications;

  • Understanding the work methods of the Hague Conference, and contrasting these to the role of treaty bodies such as the Committee on the Rights of the Child;

  • Understanding the roles and perspectives of different stakeholders in child law in the private international law sphere, at the international level (parents – mothers and fathers – , judges, the children themselves, other relatives, etc.)

  • Students will understand the interface between the roles of lawyers, social workers, and other professionals in this area of private international child law

Mode of instruction

Lecture: 1 introductory lecture and 5 weeks of lectures of 2 hours each
Seminar: 4 weeks of seminars of 2 hours each
Excursion: 1 half day long field trip to the Hague Conference in The Hague

Assessment method

  • Presentation (10%)
    Students will prepare presentations regarding the subject matter of the course. The topic will be provided. Afterwards they lead the discussion. The results of the presentation and their role in the discussion will result in a mark that counts for 10% of the final grade.

  • Assignment (40%)
    Students will complete an individual assignment on a topic related to the course work (3000 words).

  • Take-home exam (50%)
    Students will complete the course by a written exam, that counts for 50% of the final grade (exam materials: all the prescribed compulsory literature and topics discussed during lectures).

Submission procedures:
Students are expected to submit the assignment via e-mail and by hard copy to the co-ordinator.

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average.
The opportunity exists to re-take the exam and assignment. Further information will be communicated through Blackboard.


Literature will be distributed through Blackboard.
Submission of papers via Blackboard using safe assign.

Course materials

A list of all study materials will be published on Blackboard. Unless otherwise indicated, all study materials are available via the online catalogue or as a paper copy in the Leiden Law Library. Where possible all required and recommended reading materials will be made available through Blackboard.


Coordinator of the course:
Dr. Machteld Vonk
Email address:

Programme Officer:
Ms. Esther Uiterweerd
Telephone number: 0031- 71 527 4644