Child Abduction

If a parent relocates a child’s residence, against the other parent’s wishes or order of the court, the “left behind parent” should act promptly to address the situation. Delay or acquiesce could have a significant impact on the long term outcome, including as children may become settled in the new arrangement and it may be against their interests for that to be disturbed.

If agreement cannot be reached for the child to be returned to the original place of residence, then an application may be urgently made to the court. In some instances, it may be appropriate to seek a “recovery order”. Careful consideration should be given as to whether that is the appropriate course given that, in essence, obtaining such an order can authorise or direct police officers to locate, recover and deliver a child to a parent. The implementation of such an order has an obvious potential impact on the child.

If a parent relocates a child’s residence outside of the Commonwealth of Australia, without the agreement of the other parent, the “left behind parent” may take steps for the return of the child to Australia. If the child has been relocated to a country which is a signatory to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (most commonly referred to in family law circles as simply, “the Hague Convention”) then the “left behind parent” may contact the Central Authority. The Central Authority will then assist in the implementation of the Convention by, in essence, liaising with the Central Authority in the other country to undertake proceedings in that country seeking Orders for the return of the child or children to Australia.

Whether an order is made in that other country for the return of the child to Australia will be determined having regard to a number of factors including whether the child was “habitually resident” in Australia immediately before their removal or retention in that other country.

It is often beneficial for both the relocating parent and the “left behind parent” to have legal representation in Australia to assist in communicating with the Central Authority, prepare documents and be in a position to provide representation, if or when the child is returned to Australia, to negotiate or seek Orders for the future parenting arrangements of the child.

Prospects of success in this difficult category of cases will very much depend on the particular circumstances of the family and we can provide you with advice as to those relevant matters.