International Child Disputes

We live in an age where international travel is easy, affordable and is often a right of passage for young people with a world of possibilities out there for them.

This can then lead to international love affairs and even marriages. So what happens if the relationship breaks down?.

The recent high profile and tragic case of Greg Hutching and his infant daughter, Eeva Dorendahl, whose bodies were found in the sand dunes near Pottsville NSW points to some of the issues that can arise when parents of different nationalities separate.  Another example is the 2012 case of the four Italian sisters involved in a tug of war between their Italian father and their Australia mother.

Some of the issues to be resolved include –

  1. In which country are the children and parents to live?
  2. Should a parent be forced to continue to live in a foreign country after the breakdown of the relationship?.

Separation is hard enough without the added stress of wondering if your child will be taken without your agreement or knowledge.

If your child is not returned to you as previously agreed or as directed by Family Law Orders but is still within Australia, then you need to make an urgent application for a ‘Recovery Order’ to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.  This will then allow the Police to locate and return the child to your care.

If you do not know the whereabouts of your child, then a ‘Commonwealth Information Order’ can be applied for to allow government authorities (eg Centrelink) to provide the Court with contact information about the parent suspected of illegally removing the child so they can be located by the Police.

If you are worried that your child will be taken out of the Country then the first important step is to seek a Court Order that the child be placed onto what is known as PACE alert.  This will alert authorities, including the Australian Federal Police, if there is ever an attempt to take the child out of the Country through any of the Australia’s Airports or international departure points.

If a child has already left Australian borders without the consent of the other parent or an Order of the Court then it will be deemed to be an international child abduction.

Depending on the destination the child has been taken to, the remaining parent maybe able to make an Application for the return of the child from the country where the child has been taken by using rules agreed to by various countries under what is known as the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention is an international agreement that deals, amongst other things, with international child abduction.

Approximately 70 Countries worldwise are parties to this agreement.  If a child is abducted, the country to which the child was taken will co-operate and Courts there will generally make Orders for the return of the child to the country from which the child was taken.

This is a very complicated area of law.  You should always get expert advice from an experienced family lawyer to know where you stand.  Brazel Moore Lawyers can provide you with discreet, sensitive support and advice to assist you.  Call 4324 7699 to speak to our expert family lawyer.