Insights and inspiration
How to Try to Prevent International Child Abduction
19 May 2014
We recently reported the signature by Japan and Iraq to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. Having to activate the Convention means having to do the best that you can to fix things up after the catastrophe of a child abduction. There are however some things that are useful to know, in order to try to prevent such a thing happening.
In the first place, if there are parenting orders about a child or children in Australia, setting out if a child is to live with a person, spend time with a person, communicate with a person or about the allocation of parental responsibility for a child (which pretty much covers most of everything) then it is an offence under the Family Law Act and a serious one, to take a child out of Australia unless:
- it is done with the consent in writing of each of the people in the parenting order, or
- it is in accordance with a court order
That prohibition also applies even if there are no orders but the proceedings are pending, that is somebody has applied for such orders and the court has yet to make a decision.
The offence is serious because it applies to even attempts to carry out the act, imposes the burden of proving consent or court order upon the person doing the taking, and also imposes a penalty of imprisonment for three years. Therefore it is no small thing.
Second in the armoury is an application to the court to have the child listed on the Federal Police Watch List, but of course that applies to either parent and can be difficult and should be used only where necessary.
Finally, the I Care Foundation has developed and international travel child consent form. This is different from the consent form that the Family Law Act makes mandatory. It is intended to strengthen the case of a parent who is being asked to agree to a child leaving the host country to travel overseas with the other parent. It is designed to close off defences under the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. It is a very useful tool.
If you are interested in having a copy of the international travel child consent form, or any advice about these issues please do not hesitate to contact us.
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