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    International Family Law and Hague Convention Legal Services Sydney

    Separating families across international borders face unique challenges which may affect their children.

    Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and to the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children.

    This means that there are ways in which you can seek the return of a child if they have been ‘abducted’ and relocated to a Hague Convention Country. We can assist you with the application process for the return of an abducted child to Australia. There are specific conditions required to be satisfied for this to occur such as whether the child has been habitually resident in Australia, whether the child is under 16 years old, and where the child is currently located.

    If you are seeking to enforce parenting arrangements but your child is located in another country and you are being denied access, you can make an application under the Hague Convention for access to your child.

    Whether you are seeking access to your child in Australia from overseas, or you are seeking access to your child across international borders, we can assist you with your application as certain factors need to be satisfied for you to succeed in your application.

    Speak to our specialised team at Dorter Family Lawyers & Mediators for tailored advice.

    What is the Hague Convention? 

    The Hague Convention (formally known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction) is a multilateral treaty between Australia and a number of other signatory countries, and the main international agreement pertaining to international parental child abduction. 

    It provides a lawful process by which parents can seek the return of abducted children to their home country.

    How is the Hague Convention enforced in Australia? 

    The Hague Convention (the Convention) stipulates that a Central Authority be established in each signatory country to process applications for the return of children taken to or from each country. In Australia, it is the Attorney-General’s Department that functions as the Central Authority. 

    Moreover, because the Convention is not, by itself, part of Australian domestic law, it is the Family Law (Child Abduction Convention) Regulation 1986 that is used as the legislative framework by which to interpret the Convention. 

    How do I seek my child’s return?

    If your former partner refuses to return your child to Australia, or has taken your child to another country without your permission, you can request that the Central Authority take action on your behalf. 

    However, a number of jurisdictional facts will need to be proven before you can legally obtain an order from the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for the return of your child. These criteria include: 

    • Your child’s country of habitual residence is also a ratifying country;
    • You had rights of custody or access under the law of the convention country in which your child habitually resided prior to their removal;
    • The removal or retention of your child was directly in breach of those rights;
    • You were exercising those rights of custody or access, or would have if the child had not been removed
    • Your child is under 16 years old;
    • Your Application is filed within one year of the wrongful removal or retention of your child. However, if the child has not settled in the convention country, then the Family Court may accept an Application made after the one year period.
    • No exceptions apply

    What are the exceptions?

    A person who has retained the child in, or removed the child to, Australia must only prove that one of these exceptions apply to prevent the child from being returned:

    • The person seeking the return of the child:
      • Was not actually exercising rights of custody when the child was removed or retained; or
      • Had consented or subsequently acquiesced to the child being removed to, or retained in Australia; or
    • There is a grave risk that the child may be exposed to physical or psychological harm if they were to return to their country of habitual residence; 
    • Each of the three elements apply: 
      • The child objects to their return; and 
      • The objection is strong enough to display a conviction of feeling beyond mere expression of preference; and 
      • The child is mature enough that it is appropriate to take their decision into consideration; or 
    • Returning the child to their country of habitual residence would not be permitted by the fundamental Australian principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms

    Hague Convention Countries 

    The Convention is currently in force between Australia and the following countries:

    • Albania
    • Argentina
    • Armenia
    • Austria
    • Bahamas
    • Belarus
    • Belgium
    • Belize
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Brazil
    • Bulgaria
    • Burkina Faso
    • Canada
    • Chile
    • Colombia
    • Costa Rica
    • Croatia
    • Cyprus
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Dominican Republic
    • Ecuador
    • El Salvador
    • Estonia
    • Fiji
    • Finland
    • France
    • Georgia
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Guatemala
    • Honduras
    • Hong Kong (China)
    • Hungary
    • Iceland
    • Ireland
    • Israel
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Latvia
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Macau (China)
    • Malta
    • Mauritius
    • Mexico
    • Moldova, Republic of
    • Monaco
    • Montenegro
    • Netherlands
    • New Zealand
    • Nicaragua
    • Norway
    • Panama
    • Paraguay
    • Peru
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • Republic of Korea (from 1 June 2015)
    • Romania
    • Saint Kitts and Nevis
    • San Marino
    • Serbia
    • Singapore
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • South Africa
    • Spain
    • Sri Lanka
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Thailand
    • The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
    • Trinidad and Tobago
    • Turkey
    • Turkmenistan
    • Ukraine
    • United Kingdom
    • United States of America
    • Uruguay
    • Uzbekistan
    • Venezuela
    • Zimbabwe.

    Here When You Need Us

    If your child has been removed to, or retained in, Australia without your permission and you are seeking that they be returned to your care, it is important to obtain legal assistance from a specialist family lawyer. At Dorter Lawyers & Mediators our team is here to help you navigate the process.  

    With proven experience in international family law, Dorter Family Lawyers & Mediators is committed to understanding your particular family situation, helping you liaise with the Central Authority and satisfy the requirements of the Hague Convention for the lawful return of your child.  

    Speak to our specialised team at Dorter Family Lawyers & Mediators for tailored advice. Contact us here.