Overseas Child Abduction

It is a real fear for some parents following a separation or divorce that the other parent may take their children overseas with no intention of returning. This is particularly evident in cases where one parent has grown up overseas and their family continues to reside there. It is natural for parties to seek support from their loved ones after a separation, however it is illegal to take children overseas without the consent of the other parent.

In this situation, the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (The Hague Convention) provides for the return of illegally abducted children to Australia. This convention is international law and applies only to countries who agree to comply with it. If a country fails to comply with the Convention once it has been ratified, political and legal ramifications may result. Despite this however, not all children are successfully returned. This is partly because not all countries are members of the Hague Convention and are therefore not subject to it. As well as that, some member countries to the Convention are less compliant than others.

It is therefore necessary to conduct preventative measures to avoid the illegal abduction of a child, as it may be quite difficult to have them returned from an overseas country. The preventative measures that you can implement are:

1. Airport Watchlist

The Australian Federal Police keep a register of children who are at risk of overseas abduction. If your children are put on this list, the Police may monitor or restrict your child’s travel. Please contact Nolan Lawyers if you require advice on placing your child on this list.

2. Children’s Passports

A child may not obtain a passport without the consent of all parents or legal guardians. If you are concerned regarding your child’s overseas travel, you may seek legal advice from Nolan Lawyers before providing consent. You may also complete a Child Alert Request at the Australian Passports Office to indicate that you do not consent to the issue of passports. In saying that however, there is no guarantee that this will prevent your child from travelling overseas.

3. Be selective with your child’s travel

For some parent’s international travel for their child with their other parent is not a matter of concern, but for others it may be highly concerning. If you want to travel overseas with your child or want to prevent your children from travelling overseas, you should seek advice from Nolan Lawyers prior to making any arrangements for travel. If you have any suspicions that your child is about to be abducted overseas, act urgently.

If your child has already been abducted from Australia, you must contact the Australian Central Authority and make any applications for the return of your child on your behalf. This department communicates with overseas government agents to have your child returned. Other steps may include making an urgent application to the Family Court of Australia and conducting negotiations with the overseas country. Do not delay in seeking advice on how to go about this process.