Children overseas, abducted, threats to take them. What can I do?


What do I do if my ex has threatened to take the children overseas or has already taken them?

Cases of international child abduction are traumatic for all involved. Australia has one of the highest per capita rates in the world of parents abducting and taking the children overseas.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Hague Convention”) is the main international agreement that covers international parental child abduction. It provides a process through which a parent can seek to have their children overseas returned to their home country. In the event your child is taken to a country who is party to the Hague Convention, you can apply to have your child returned from that country to Australia under the Hague Convention.

If your child has been abducted to a country that is not party to the Hague convention, it can be extremely difficult to have your child returned. Our lawyers have worked in cases where a partner has abducted and taken the children overseas to countries that are not party to the Hague Convention and have been successful in securing the return of those children.
One such case is Millar & Oakley (No. 5) (2018) FamCA 724.

In the 2016/17 financial year, 137 applications were made under the Hague Convention for the return of Australian children and of those, 61 children were returned.

Countries who are party to the Hague Convention include:
  • Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Austria
  • Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso
  • Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic
  • Denmark, Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia
  • Fiji, Finland, France
  • Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala
  • Honduras, Hong Kong (China, Hungary
  • Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg
  • Macau (China), Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro
  • Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway
  • Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal
  • Republic of Korea, Romania
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland
  • Thailand, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan
  • Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela
  • Zimbabwe.

What is the process? If your partner or ex has taken the children overseas.

You should contact us immediately. We can put you in touch with the Department of Health and Human Services Central Authority for assistance in securing the return of your child. Our lawyers have extensive experience in international child abduction cases and can assist you to work with the Central Authority to have your child returned.

The purpose of the Hague Convention is to provide for a speedy return of abducted children to their home country. After an application has been filed, the matter must be finalised within 42 days.

For an order to be made for the return of your child the following must be satisfied:
  1. There must be an eligible applicant;
  2. There must be an eligible child;
  3. The child must have been either wrongfully removed to or retained in Australia from another Convention Country or wrongfully removed to or retained in another Convention Country from Australia in breach of the left behind parent’s custodial rights.

To find out whether you can make an application under the Hague Convention for the return of your child, make an appointment to speak with one of our lawyers.

The Airport Watch List

If you are concerned that the other parent may take the children overseas, you must take steps to immediately place the children on the airport watch list. Our experienced family lawyers have been successful in stopping children leaving the country when a parent has not agreed. If your children do not have an Australian or international passports our lawyers can provide advice on how to ensure they are not issued with a passport.

A court can order that your children’s names are placed on the watch list and that means if an attempt is made to take them overseas once their passport is scanned at the airport, an alert will be issued to the Australian Federal Police and they will be stopped from boarding their flight.

Children are more at risk of being abducted and taken overseas in the following circumstances:
  • The other parent is in possession of the children’s passports;
  • The other parent has ties to overseas such as family or friends who live in a different country;
  • The other parent is from a country where they are able to obtain passports for the children without the other parent’s consent.

Should you have concerns about your children being taken overseas, our lawyers can assist.

I want to go overseas with my child but the other parent will not agree. What now?

Your first step is to contact our experienced family lawyers, find out how we can assist you in the negotiation process, making an application to the court to obtain an order that allows you to travel overseas with your child and most importantly how to avoid a Hague Convention application being made against you.

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For any advice or more information on the matters discussed in this article please contact our Family Lawyers.

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