There can be nothing more distressing than losing contact with a child because the other parent has taken a child interstate or overseas without the consent of the other parent.
Where a child has been taken overseas provided the country has signed the Hague Convention, there are clear rules about what should occur. In such circumstances in most cases, the other country will order the child be returned and issues about the child’s living arrangements decided in the original jurisdiction.
These matters are dealt with by a government department called Central Authority in each country who will act on behalf of the parent to make arrangements for the child’s return. If a child has been taken from Australia without your consent or has not been returned to Australia, you should contact the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department for assistance.
Where a child is taken within Australia, The Family Law Act can help parents and authorities to find and recover missing children by using Location Orders and Recovery Orders.
You can apply for a recovery order if you are a:
- person who the child lives with spends time with or communicates with as stated in a parenting order;
- person who has parental responsibility for the child in a parenting order;
- grandparent of the child, or
- person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child. For example, you may be the person who the child lives or spends time with but there is no parenting order that states this.
A Location order requires a person or organisation with information about the child’s whereabouts to provide details to the Court. Information is sought from government agencies like Centrelink, Road Traffic Authorities and Medicare, educational authorities, and friends and associates of the abducting parent.
A Recovery order enables persons such as police officers, to find, recover and deliver a child to the person listed in the order. Orders can be made about the day-to-day care of a child until the child is returned or delivered.
A recovery order can also prohibit the person from again removing or taking possession of the child. In these cases, a recovery order can authorise the arrest (without warrant) of the person who takes the child again.
The Family Court website now has a Missing Children’s service. It lists missing children in an effort to help find the children. Before a child’s details can be listed on the website, a judicial officer is required to make an order permitting the names and photographs to be released.
Click here for more details on this website.
Prepared by Andrew Crooke