What to do if your child does not come home?

As holidays approach, most parents and children will be happily planning their time away as agreed or as their Parenting Order or Plan states.  Unfortunately for a few parents each year, the child does not come home and the other parent retains the children.  If this does occur, there is something which can be done.

If there are no Family Court Parenting Orders in place, you can make an urgent Application to the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court of Australia for the return of the child, commonly referred to as a “Recovery Order.” This is an Order made for the Federal Police to recover the child from anywhere in Australia.

If the children have a passport and there is a risk of the children being removed from Australia, we would strongly recommend an Airport Watch is initiated to ensure the children do not leave the country by air or sea.  An Airport Watch does not stop the ex-spouse from leaving the country, only the children.

If your children have left Australia and your ex-spouse does not intend to return them to Australia, the Hauge Convention, on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, has been set up by the United Nations to assist children return to the country which is their usual place of residence.

If your child is located in Egypt or Lebanon, the Australian Government has separate agreements with the Governments of these two countries to assist in the return of children. Information regarding these agreements can be found on the Attorney-General’s Department website, www.ag.gov.au/childabduction.

If your child is in a country which is not a member of the Hague Convention, you will need to seek private legal representation in that country. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Consular Office can provide you with a list of Family Lawyers overseas. For information, please call the DFAT Consular Office on 1300 555 135.

If you would like further information before you make a decision as to whether you should or shouldn’t sign that passport Application, please contact us first, as our experienced Family Lawyers can assist. Call our office now on (07) 5679 8016 for 15 minutes of free telephone advice!

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