If a parent has removed a child from the child’s last known address, and the child is unable to be found by the other parent, a Registrar of the Court has the power to make a Location Order. Such an order compels a third party, usually the Australian Federal Police or Centrelink, to provide to the Court any information about the location of the child and/or the parent who has taken the child.
To seek a Location Order, a party must also seek leave to proceed with the application on an ex parte basis. A party must serve a copy of their application on the third party prior (such as Centrelink) to the Court hearing and the party must provide the Court with an Affidavit of Service to prove that the third party is on notice of the application.
Pursuant to Rule 21.02 of the Family Law Rules, the application must be filed with an affidavit setting out the following:
- The parties’ personal history;
- The history of the relationship between the parties;
- The litigation history or an explanation as to why there has been no previous litigation;
- The relationship between the child and the applicant;
- Where the child might be located and the basis for that belief;
- Steps that have been taken to locate the child;
- Why it is in the child’s best interests for the order to be made;
- The expected effect if an order is not made; and
- The basis for the belief that the relevant department will hold the requested information.
Once a Location Order is made, the third party will provide the requested information to the Registrar of the Court. A party may seek an order that the Registrar provide the information in relation to the location of the child to that party. The applicant may also seek that the child be recovered by the Australian Federal Police and returned to the applicant.