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Parental Child Abduction Lawyers

Parental child abduction is a serious and stressful matter that requires immediate assistance. At Culshaw Bishop Lawyers, our child abduction lawyers are here to provide you with the advice and support you need to ensure your child is safe. Don’t delay – get in touch with our family law team today.

What is parental child abduction?

Parental child abduction is when a parent takes, conceals, or detains their child without the consent of the other parent or caregiver, or without a court order. It is a risk in the event of a divorce or separation where there are significant parenting disputes, especially where a parent has a connection to another country.

What is international child abduction?

International child abduction is when a parent removes their child from Australia without the other parent or caregiver’s permission. The Hague Convention specifies that parenting proceedings should be held in the child’s habitual place of residence. An application under the Hague Convention for the return of a child to their habitual place of residence can only be made to or from a country that is a signatory to the convention, and in force with Australia.

If their country is not a signatory to The Hague Convention, has laws that favour a specific parent, or has special preferences for a certain religious or cultural group, the successful recovery of your child can be difficult.

If you have concerns that your child may be at risk of parental abduction, we recommend seeking legal advice from our child abduction lawyers immediately in order to prevent this occurrence.

Is parental child abduction a crime in Australia?

Under the Family Law Act, parental child abduction is a criminal offence. As of 2018, these laws extend to any persons acting on behalf of a parent in an abduction. International parental child abduction offenders can face three years imprisonment and suspension of child support benefits. However, there are limited defences.

What do I do if my child has been abducted from Australia?

  • If you have concerns that your child has been abducted from Australia, the first thing to do is call 000 and immediately report the suspected abduction to the Australian Federal Police.
  • Then, contact Culshaw Bishop Lawyers and seek advice from one of our experienced child abduction lawyers.
  • Our lawyers can seek Court Orders placing your child on the Family Law Watch List, if they have not yet left the country this could prevent them from doing so.
  • If your child has been taken to a Hague Convention country, our lawyers can apply for the recovery of the child under the Hague Convention through the Australian Central Authority or the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.
  • If your child has been taken to a non-Hague Convention country, our child abduction lawyers can contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade who will be able to assist you in these harder circumstances.

How do I apply for a Recovery Order?

A recovery order is an order of the Court requiring a child to be returned.

A recovery order should be filed in the Federal Circuit and Family Court. However, the process of applying for a recovery order depends on whether court proceedings are happening or not. We recommend seeking legal advice for obtaining a recovery order as the wording required has to be specific.

Once the Court has ordered a recovery order, the Australian Federal Police take action to relocate, recover, and return the child to the designated parent or caregiver.

How to prevent child abduction by a parent

In order to prevent parental child abduction, you must prove to the Federal Circuit and Family Court that the other parent will likely take and remove the child without your consent. The Federal Circuit and Family Court will issue an injunction restraining the other parent from relocating or travelling with the child, and placing the child on the airport watch list.

Can I take my child overseas?

Australian law specifies that any parent must have the other parent or caregiver’s permission before they take their child overseas, except in specific circumstances where the court decides that it is in the child’s best interest to leave the country with said parent.


Culshaw Bishop Lawyers

  • 08 8464 0033
  • 49 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide, South Australia 5000


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  • 08 9488 1300
  • Level 8, 233 Adelaide Terrace, Perth, Western Australia 6000


Culshaw Miller Badenoch Lawyers

  • 03 9999 1588
  • Ground Floor, 501 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000