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How the Application of The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction can be used by a Child Custody Lawyer
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention) addresses international child abduction. Ratified in 1980, the Convention provides legal measures for returning abducted children to their home country and assistance to parents to contact overseas children or address child custody matters. This, for instance, can be in the case where one parent takes the child on an overseas holiday, with the intention of not allowing them to return home.
If faced with the issue, a child custody lawyer can be guided by both The Hague Convention and Australian Federal Law. One important thing to note however, is that to apply the Convention, Australia must also have an agreement with the other signatory. For instance, Russia has consented to the Convention, however it is not in force with Australia, so in the rare instance of a child being abducted and taken to Russia, seeking return under The Hague Convention is not permissible.
What do you do if you have fears your child has been abducted?
Recent statistics show a decrease in applications to another country (from Australia) having decreased from 100 in 2012, to 92 in 2016. These have been actioned under The Hague Convention with the proportion from The United Kingdom and The United States accounting for the highest percentage.
If you are concerned for the welfare of your child, it is important to report the matter immediately. According to the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department, the following steps should be taken:
- Contact the Australian Federal Police. This arm of police will be able to place the child’s name on what is known as a The Family Law Watchlist. The Watchlist alerts police of any movement of the child and whether they are leaving the country or not
- Seek legal assistance. In order to proceed with the abovementioned Family Law Watchlist, you will need a court order. Our family or child custody lawyer Sydney and Brisbane-wide will be able to provide the advice you need
- If the country your child is in is a member of The Hague Convention, the Australian Central Authority can also be able to assist
- If the country your child is in is not a member of The Hague Convention, the Department of Foreign Affairs may be able to assist
In a child custody or abduction case, it is critical that immediate action is taken.
The comments in the article are general and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional advice. Anyone intending to apply the information contained in this newsletter should seek their own professional advice to independently verify their interpretation and the information’s applicability to their particular circumstances. This article is issued as a helpful guide to clients and for their private information. Therefore, it should be regarded as confidential and not be made available to any person without our prior approval.
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