Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Brazil: International Child Custody Battle Transferred to Federal Court

(Mar. 19, 2009) On March 14, 2009, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva met for the first time with the President of the United States, Barack Obama. Lula is the third Head of State to meet with Obama, and during their meeting Obama is reported to have thanked Lula for the position taken by the Brazilian government in a child custody case. Brazil recently transferred the case from state court to federal court, which will consider the legal battle for the custody of an eight-year-old boy, in keeping with an international convention. The Brazilian law applicable to the case is as follows.

The Hague Convention of October 25, 1980, on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Convention) was ratified by the Brazilian National Congress on September 15, 1999, through Legislative Decree No. 79. With the promulgation on April 14, 2000, of Decree No. 3,413, the Convention was incorporated into the Brazilian legal system with the status of ordinary law.

To further implement the Convention, on October 4, 2001, Brazil promulgated Decree No. 3,951. It designated the Central Authority in charge of enforcing the obligations imposed by the Convention and determined its competence, created the Council of the Central Authority Against International Child Abduction and defined its members, and established a national program for cooperation in the return of internationally abducted Brazilian children and adolescents.

In August 2006, Ms. Ellen Gracie Northfleet, Justice of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court (STF – Supremo Tribunal Federal), conceived and implemented a permanent study group on the Convention within the ambit of the presidency of the highest court in Brazil. The group is composed of members of public organs involved in the issue of international child abduction, and its objective is, inter alia, to publicize the Convention in the legal community, encourage studies and research on the subject, and participate in domestic and international discussions on the topic.

The STF created a specific tab dedicated to the subject on its web page. It can be accessed at; it includes the text of the Convention with comments on the most relevant articles at
. In addition, the website offers information on how to make a repatriation request and provides several legal decisions issued on the topic by the Brazilian courts. (Manifestação em Copacabana Pede que Filho de Americano Fique no Brasil, GLOBO ONLINE, Mar. 15, 2009, available at