Everything You Need to Know About Parental Child Abduction in Australia

Parental child abduction is a serious matter that requires immediate assistance. If you fear your child has been abducted and fear for their welfare and safety, please call the police on 000 immediately.

For additional information relating to parental child abduction and the law, Pullos Lawyers can assist. We share some important information below.

What Is Parental Child Abduction?

Parental Child Abduction is when one parent or guardian takes, detains or conceals a child from the other parent or guardian without their consent, or authorisation of the courts.

It may happen in circumstances where the parents have separated, although it is not exclusive to this. Parental Child Abduction may occur within the country where the child has been residing, or the child may be taken overseas.

What is International Parental Child Abduction?

In some instances, particularly if one parent is originally from another country, the abducted child is taken to, or fails to return from, a country outside of Australia. This is known as international parental child abduction (IPCA).

When this happens, recovery of the child becomes subject to international laws surrounding child abduction.

As of 2018, amendments to the Australian Family Law Act state that International parental abduction of children from Australia will attract a penalty of three years’ imprisonment. The Court will also have the power to suspend any child support payments the abductor parent may have been receiving.

Prior to this, it was not an offence for that parent to keep the child overseas having had permission to leave Australia.

The parent would be liable for breaching the court orders, but they would not be criminally liable.

How Do I Recover My Child in Australia?

If you are the other parent or guardian, you can apply for a recovery order. A person who the child lives with, spends time with or communicates with as stated in a parenting order, a grandparent, or a personal concerned with the care and welfare can also apply.

As defined in 67Q of the Family Law Act 1975, a recovery order is user to direct persons such as a police officer to take action to find, recover and return a child to the designated parent or guardian.

The recovery order can also prohibit the person from again removing or taking possession of the child in an effort to prevent parental child abduction from occurring again.

How Do I Apply For a Recovery Order?

An application for a recovery order should be filed in the Federal Circuit Court. If you have a current parenting case in the Family Court, the application should be filed in that court. If you do not have a current parenting order, you should apply for one at the same time as applying for a recovery order.

At Pullos Lawyers, we can assist you in filing your application for a recovery order.

How Do I Recover My Child From Overseas?

If you know or suspect the other parent has left the country with your child, or is in the process of doing so, report the matter to your local police on 000 immediately.

Contact the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to place your child’s name on the Family Law Watchlist. If the other parent or guardian has not yet left the country, they may be able to stop them.

Speak to a Family law professional as soon you can. Pullos Lawyers offer a free initial consultation and are happy to assist.

If your child has been taken to a country that is a member of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the Australian Central Authority can assist. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction page lists all the countries that are members.

Many children are often take to countries that are not members of the Hague Convention. The Consular Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a 24-hour hotline on 1300 555 135, and will be able to assist.

What Does This Mean for Me As a Parent?

As a parent, it is essential you comply with any Court Orders or agreements you have with your partner or former partner in place regarding your children.

If you do find yourself delayed travelling back from overseas or elsewhere in Australia, it is essential you notify the other parent as soon as you possibly can, otherwise you may find yourself criminally liable for parental child abduction.

Need to Know More About Parental Child Abduction and Your Rights As a Parent?

If you are concerned that your child may be at risk of parental abduction, you should seek urgent legal advice. At Pullos Lawyers, we have a team of family lawyers in both Brisbane and the Gold Coast who are experienced in dealing with a wide range of family law matters, including international family law, and children’s matters. Please get in touch for more information or a free consultation via email, or call us in our Gold Coast office on (07) 5526 3646, or in Brisbane on (07) 3144 1641.