What can I do if my co-parent tries to move my children overseas?
When I think of an international child relocation, I think of 60 Minutes’ botched attempt to abduct two children from Lebanon, when the Father would not return them to Australia.
There are much easier ways to recover children back to Australia which don’t involve hiring professionals or linking up with 60 Minutes (or any other news outlets for that matter).
So, what are your options?
If the children travel to a Hague Convention Country, that will give you the best chance of having the children returned to Australia.
What is a Hague Convention country?
It is a country that has signed up to the “Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction”.
There are 83 countries that are part of this Convention, including the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada. Check out the full list of countries here.
So, what does the Hague Convention actually do?
If a country has signed up to the Hague Convention, it means that if you need the children returned to Australia, you can make a Hague Application to the Attorney-General’s Department in Australia, asking for the children to be returned.
In that Application, you must give evidence about:
1. What rights of custody you have over the children;
2. When the children were wrongfully removed from Australia;
3. Whether the children normally resided in Australia;
4. If you had agreed to the children moving overseas; and
5. If the other parent has any defenses.
If you Application is successful, then the other country must cooperate in returning the children to Australia.
How does that differ from a non-Hague Convention country?
The difficulty parents face when their children are not taken to a Hague Convention Country is that they must apply through the other country’s legal system to have their children returned to Australia. This can be costly and can be difficult, especially if there is a language barrier.
What does all of this mean?
So, the bottom line is that you have a better chance at having children returned to Australia if they are taken to a Hague Convention Country, because you can make the Application within Australia, rather than relying on another country’s legal system.
If this is something that really concerns you, my top tip is that in any agreement you reach with your co-parent about international travel for your kids, you should include a condition that the children can only travel to Hague Convention Countries.
Where to from here?
You are probably in one of three head spaces right now:
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