International Child Abduction (Hague Convention Proceedings)

If your child has been removed or retained overseas without your permission, the process to have them returned to Australia is different than for other parenting proceedings, which are ordinarily heard in the Family Court.

If your child has been abducted to, or held in a Hague Convention member country, your proceedings should be brought under the Family Law (Child Abduction Convention) Regulations 1986. A list of the Hague Convention signatory countries is available [here]. You will need to file an Application for the Return of a Child and supporting documents with the Central Authority who will then initiate proceedings in the court of the foreign country where your child is located.

There are some key requirements for your application to meet the terms of the Convention, including:

  • your child is under 16 years of age.
  • you have “rights of custody” to the child.
  • you were exercising your rights of custody at the time your child was wrongfully removed or retained overseas.
  • your child was habitually resident in Australia immediately before they were removed or retained overseas.
  • your child is in a Hague Convention country; and
  • the removal was without your consent, and not pursuant to a court order.

If you have brought your child to Australia from overseas without the other parent’s permission, it is possible that the other parent may make an application for the children’s return under the Hague Convention. If you are concerned about this possibility, you should seek legal advice in relation to your options.