Annually, thousands of children in the EU fall victim to international parental abduction. One of their parents either takes or keeps them abroad. What follows is a complex interplay between a civil law procedure concerning the return of the child, and a criminal law procedure aimed at punishing the abducting parent. Combining their respective outcomes insufficiently safeguards children’s rights. In absence of a solid conceptual framework to organise the interaction between both procedures, mutually incompatible decisions possibly undermine the best interests of the child involved.The research aims at gaining insight into the overlap in factual assessment on the one hand and considerations concerning the child best interest of on the other between both procedures. Those insights will be used to develop a better conceptual framework that can be used as a basis to improve the laws and practice. To achieve that objective, a comparative analysis will be conducted in 5 countries consisting of a theoretical and legislative review and interviews with practitioners.