Tips On Seeking Legal Help With International Child Abduction

Child Abduction

The most common cause of international child abduction is when one of the parents or guardians is from another country. In the case of a breakdown of a relationship, the parent who is not from Australia might wish to return to their home country and take their child along with them. It is a legal requirement for the parent to take consent of the other parent or have an order from an Australian court in order to do so. In the case where neither has been obtained, it is possible for the parent in Australia to take legal action in order to retrieve their child.

Seeking Help from a Family Law Specialist in Sydney

It is usually quite common for one to leave legal issues pertaining to the divorce or family separation in the expert hands of the lawyers. Family separation is not easy and when it involves a dispute across the international borders it is hard for an individual parent to deal with it themselves. They can seek help from a child support lawyer for this purpose.

In fact, there were more than 200 such cases in the financial year 2015-2016. In these cases, the parent residing in Australia has no way to access their child or have any knowledge of their whereabouts in the other country.  A divorce lawyer in Sydney can help a parent with this type of an issue which is also referred to as International Child Abduction.

Hague Convention

It is possible for a lawyer to take advantage of the Hague Convention which is the primary method of dealing with international parental child abductions. This deals with all the civil aspects of international child abductions and is a multilateral treaty that involves 81 countries including Australia. It has been specially designed to reduce the harm exposed to children in such a situation and provides a lawful means for the safe return to their country of habitual residence. This is a legal process that involves many steps and is best left to a lawyer providing relevant service. There is no fixed timeframe for this type of negotiations however, it can take up to 2 months or more depending on the path the negotiations take.

 Important Facts & Statistics

  • 216 applications were made for the return of abducted children in 2015.
  • 5% of the applications placed in 2015 resulted in the successful return of the child.
  • A parent with concerns of international abduction can request a restraining order for their child and place their child’s name on a watch list. A watch list is maintained by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and is accessible at all international departure points in Australia.
  • As per Hague convention, there is legislation in effect that includes several countries where a parent can use the legal system to request the return of their child taken without permission from Australia.
  • An application for the return of a child with the Australian Central Authority (ACA) must be made within 12 months of the abduction.
  • To seek legal help in the case of international child abduction for a country that is not a part of the Hague Convention the only legal option for the parents is for the legal process in the other country to find a solution.

A breakdown of a relationship can lead to a wide range of issues and in the case of international child abduction as well. Those fearing of such an outcome have the option of placing their child on an AFP watchlist. However, for the parents who are a victim of international child abduction should ideally contact a family law specialist in Sydney and take advantage of their legal expertise.

(Source: Australian Government Attorney – General’s Department)

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