What is Parental Child Abduction?
When a parent and a child moves away from the other parent to a new town, state or country, they must obtain permission from the other parent before doing so. If permission cannot be obtained form the other parent they will need to seek permission from the Family Court to do so. This is called interstate or overseas relocation. See our family law blogs Relocation of Children and Interim Relocation of Children for more information in relation to this topic. If a parent fails to seek consent before relocating your children interstate or overseas, this is known as parental child abduction.
What can I do to prevent Parental Child Abduction from occurring?
If you are concerned about parental child abduction, i.e. that the other parent may attempt to remove your children from Brisbane or Queensland without your consent, you should seek urgent advice from our experienced family law team. We can put in place swift measures in order to prevent the removal of a child from the state or Australia, for example by:
- Seeking an urgent Order for a pace alert in order to prevent the children from leaving Australia;
- Seeking an urgent Order to restrain the parent from travelling interstate;
- Seeking further orders for the child’s Passport to be held by the Family Court;
- Liaising with the Federal Police to prevent the child from leaving Australia;
- Apply for notifications of any Passport applications.
What if the other parent has already taken my child interstate/overseas?
If the parent has already taken your children to another state or country unilaterally, without your consent, you should equally seek urgent legal advice from our family law team. We can take urgent action with respect to the parental child abduction which will increase the prospects of you being able to successfully seek the return of the children to their prior location by:
- Seeking urgent orders that the children be returned by the other parent;
- Seeking an urgent order for a Pace Alert to prevent the other parent travelling interstate/internationally with the children in the future
- Filing an urgent application pursuant to the Hague Convention seeking the return of your children to Australia if your children have been taken to a Hague Convention Country.
Unfortunately, parental child abduction for separated couples is increasingly common.
Parental Child Abduction – Hague Convention
If your children are abducted by the other parent and taken outside of Australia to another country without your permission or the court’s permission, it will me more or less difficult for you to recover your children back to Australia, depending on whether the country they are in is a signatory to the Hague Convention.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international agreement between some countries that covers international parental child abduction.
The Attorney General website lists the countries which are a party to the Hague Convention and are therefore ‘Hague Convention Countries.
Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention along with more than 70 other countries.
International Parental Child Abduction to a Hague Convention Country
The Hague Convention makes it easier to recover your child from a Hague Convention country and have them returned to Australia.
If your child has been either abducted or retained overseas by the other party for a period longer than agreed, the Hague Convention permits you to make an application to that country through the State Central Authority to seek the return of your children returned to Australia, i.e. the Commonwealth Attorney General.
The process involved where a child has been abducted from Australia to a Hague Convention Country is set out on the Attorney General website.
International Parental Child Abduction to a non-Hague Convention Country
If your child is taken by the other parent to a non-Hague Convention country, it will be more difficult to recover your child to Australia. You may have to engage a lawyer in the country where the child is located to issue legal proceedings for the recovery of your child, at the same time as you also issue proceedings in the Family Court of Australia.
Seek urgent legal advice to prevent parental child abduction
It is very important for you to be proactive and seek urgent legal advice from an experienced family lawyer if you become aware that your former partner has or is going to abduct your children and relocate unilaterally to another state or country.
If you take proactive action to prevent the relocation/abduction of your children from occurring in the first place, you will be in a strategically much better position than you would be if you seek legal advice reactively, after the other parent has already taken the children to another state/country without your consent. If the other parent has already relocated with the children, it is increasingly difficult to successfully seek an order from the Court for the return of the children to where they were prior to a Trial, twelve to eighteen months down the track.
Whether you are seeking advice in relation to relocation or child abduction, our experienced family law team can help put your mind at ease by putting in place urgent measures to restrain the other parent from abducting your children. Alternatively, we can seek urgent orders for the return of the children to you.
For more information or if you have any questions or concerns in relation to your children being unilaterally relocated/abducted without your consent, contact us to seek urgent advice from our experienced family law team.