Local and interstate

Often a separated parent is concerned that the other parent should not take the child interstate without their knowledge or consent.

It is natural for a parent to want to know where their child or children are. Some parents communicate well with each other and notify the other parent of any proposed travel. However, a more detailed agreement is needed if this is not the case.

Arrangements can be made by attending family dispute resolution, by private negotiations or as part of a parenting plan or consent or parenting orders where parties agree that one or both will not take the child from a defined local area without notice to the other parent, and if the child will be away from the designated area for any length of time, the parent who stays behind be given contact details and a travel itinerary.

If there are no orders, there is no law that prevents a parent from traveling anywhere in Australia with or without the other parent’s consent. If there are parenting orders, orders are contravened in some way by the travel.

Overseas travel

If parents have a parenting order in place, or if court proceedings have commenced for a parenting order, it is illegal to take the child or children out of the country without a specific order or with written consent from the other parent.

Recovery of a child in Australia

The Family Law Act allows a parent, grandparent, or any other concerned person to apply for a recovery order.

Keeping a child in Australia

If a parent is concerned that the person who has the child may try to leave the country, the child can be put in the watch list at airports and other points of departure around the country by contacting the Federal Police.

The Federal Police should agree to put the child in an airport watchlist if a parent can show a parenting order to the effect that the child lives with you, or there are orders for recovery and /or an injunction; or a filed copy of the application for one of these orders; and an affidavit detailing the circumstances of the taking of the child and your reasons to your belief that the child may be removed from Australia.

If you do not know where the child is

The first step is to find the absconding parent.

You can apply for a location order on an Initiating Application or an Application in a Case, depending on if you have started a parenting case already.

A location order instructs named persons or a Commonwealth department or agency to give the court information about the location of the child.

Location orders can be applied at the same time as recovery orders.

The accompanying affidavit should also include evidence about the circumstances in which the child’s location became unknown to the parent, the measures taken to find the child or parent, and the relevant best interest considerations.

Recovery of a child taken overseas

Whether the country has signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction will determine the difficulty of the matter.

If a child is taken overseas by abduction, it is a complex matter due to the involvement of criminal law and international law.

The level of assistance available for the return of a child from a non-Hague Convention country will depend on the country itself and its authorities and cooperation.