Parties going through a separation face an emotional time in their life, the Holidays are often seen as an opportunity for one party to return to their Country of birth with their child and seek much needed support from their family.

However, when a parenting order has been made under the Family Law Act and one parent does not have consent from the other parent or where proceedings for parenting orders under the Family Law Act are pending, it is a criminal offence for a parent to remove the child from Australia.

Taking a child improperly out of the Country is punishable by three year imprisonment. 

Not only it is a criminal offence but a party who takes the law into their own hands will be at a disadvantage in Family Court proceedings.

If one parent believes that it is likely that the other parent may improperly take a child out of Australia they should apply to the court to make an Order restraining the other parent from removing that child. For greater protection the parent should also apply for an order that the child be placed on the Family Law Watch List maintained by the Australian Federal Police.  Once a child is placed on the Family Law Watch List an alert will be issued when a child is attempting to leave Australia, in all points of departure, including via the airport and by boat.   Additionally, if the court believes there is a possibility or threat that a child may be removed they can order for the passport of the child to be delivered up to the court. 

If you wish to travel overseas with your child you will need to seek the Consent from the other parent in writing or apply to the court for parenting orders allowing you to travel with your child.  

My child has been removed what happens now

Australia is signatory to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention). The Hague Convention provides for international cooperation between convention countries to recognize protective measures for children. Essentially, if a child has been removed to a Country that is also a signatory to the Convention an agreement has been made between that Country and Australia for a lawful procedure for the return of an abducted child.

If your child has been removed from Australia without your consent to a Hague Convention Country, you should contact the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department for assistance.

If the child has been abducted to a non Hague Convention Country this can be more problematic and you should immediately seek legal advice.