Child taken overseas – what can you do?
If your child has been taken overseas without your consent then you need to act quickly. Here are some quick practical tips on what you should consider in the event that your child is abducted:
Family Law Watchlist
In the event that your child may not have yet left Australia you can contact the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”). You can also complete a Family Law Watchlist request form. See https://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/crime-types/family-law-kit. In addition to completing the form with the AFP, you will also need a Court Order placing your child on the Family Law Watchlist.
Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Convention”)
If your child has been taken to another country you will need to find out whether that country is a member of the Hague Convention. A list of member countries can be found on the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department at: https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Families/InternationalFamilyLaw/Pages/HagueConventionOnTheCivilAspectsOfInternationalChildAbduction.aspx.
Australian Central Authority
If your child has been taken to a country that is a member of the Hague Convention or you do not know which country your child has been taken to, you should contact the Australian Central Authority and make an Application for the return of your child. You can do this at: https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Families/InternationalFamilyLaw/Pages/InternationalParentalChildAbduction.aspx.
The Australian Central Authority provides the lawful procedure for seeking the return of abducted children to their home country so that issues of residence and contact can be resolved.
International Social Service (ISS) Australia
Provides free legal assistance with respect to any Hague Convention Applications, mediation and negotiating with parents in other countries and counselling and support services. See http://www.iss.org.au/
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (“DFAT”) Consular Office
This department may be able to assist parents in accessing an English-speaking lawyer in a non-Hague Convention country as well as facilitating contact with local authorities and child welfare agencies, depending on the social services available in the foreign jurisdiction. The service operates 24 hours a day and can be contacted on 1300 555 135.
It is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible. That may include obtaining legal advice from a solicitor in the country that your child was abducted to.
At Michael Lynch Family Lawyers we can provide you with advice to help prevent your child from being taken overseas without your consent. We can advise you on what to do if your child is taken overseas without your consent. For a fixed cost initial appointment, call us on (07) 3221 4300 today.