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International Child Abduction and Family Law

Australia’s multicultural diversity within an ever increasing global community means that it is not uncommon for one or more parents of a child to have connections to another country other than Australia.

The issue of international child abduction by a parent has recently received much media attention within Australia and it is estimated that each week 2-3 children are illegal removed from Australia by one of their parents.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the main legal process available to parents in these circumstances if a child has been abducted to a country which is a signatory to the Convention.

Australia ratified the Hague Convention on 29 October 1986 and there are currently 95 member states contracting to the Hague Convention.

In order for a parent to make an Application for the return of a child to Australia under the Hague Convention the following requirements must be satisfied:

  1. The child must be under the age of 16 years;
  1. The child must have been habitually resident in Australia immediately before their removal or retention to a contracting member state; and
  1. The parent seeking the child’s return had rights of custody for the child under Australian law immediately before the child was removed or retained from Australia.

An opposing parent to a Hague Application can challenge an application for the return of a child on the following grounds:

  1. There was no actual exercise of rights of custody by the Applicant;
  1. The Applicant consented or acquiesced to the removal of the child;
  1. The child would be exposed to grave risk or psychological harm in the event they were returned;
  1. Objection by the child to its return (in limited circumstances);
  1. The protection of human rights and fundamental freedom; and
  1. The child has subsequently settled in their new country.

Nicholes Family Lawyers has extensive experience in International Family Law Matters involving the Hague Convention and has conducted numerous matters involving various international jurisdictions. Please contact us if you have any further enquires.


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