What is International Parental Child Abduction (“IPCA”)?

IPCA occurs when a parent or guardian removes their child to foreign country without the consent of the parent or guardian or refuses to return the child.

 What steps can I take to prevent my child being taken overseas?

There are steps you can take if you have concerns that your child is at risk of abduction by a parent or guardian.  You must act quickly and report the matter to your local police immediately.

What should I do immediately

  1. Contact the Australian Federal Police for assistance on placing your child’s name on the Family Law Watchlist.
  1. You must obtain a court order (made under section 68B of the Family Law Act 1975) by filing an urgent application (urgent application can be made without first attending Family Dispute Resolution) to the Federal Circuit Court preventing the removal of your child from the Commonwealth and to place your child on the Family Law Watchlist.
  1. You must complete the Family Law Watchlist Request Form. The form must be emailed to the Australian Federal Police attaching a copy of the Court Orders.
  1. Request a Child Passport Alert on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Passport Office website. Lodge your completed form attaching copies of the Court Orders. This alert will not stop your child from travelling if they hold Australian or foreign passport.
  1. You can apply for a recovery order for the child be returned to the parent of the child or person who has a parenting order (that states the child lived with, spends time with or communicates with that person, or has parental responsibility for that child).
  1. Seek legal advice.

What is a Hague Convention Matter?

Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Treaty”).   A treaty is an international binding formal agreement in writing between two or more States and is governed by international law.

The treaty deals with international parental child abduction.  It is a multilateral treaty that outlines the process of seeking the return of abducted child/ren to their country of habitual residence.

 What should I do if my child has been abducted from Australia or wrongfully retained overseas?  

  1. Contact the authorities in that country.
  1. If your child has been taken to a Hague Convention country, you can make an application under the Hague Convention for the return of your child. The process involves the Australian Central Authority which receives applications.
  1. If you child has been taken to a country that is a non-member of the Hague Convention, contact the Consular Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 1300 555 135.
  1. Seek legal advice.

Can I take my child overseas without the consent of the other parent?

No.  Removing your child to foreign country without the consent of the parent or guardian is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in gaol.

If you decide to relocate to foreign country with your child, you must seek the other parent’s agreement in writing.

What if I can’t agree with the other parent about relocation?

You can file an application to the court for orders to allow you to relocate. The court will always consider the best interests and welfare of the child/ren. The court may not give you permission.

By John Makou