If you keep up with the news, you’ve probably heard alarming stories about parents kidnapping their own children and taking them overseas. Two to three children every week are either brought into Australia or taken out of the country without parental consent. If you’re worried that your ex-partner may abduct your children, here are some steps you can take to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Preventing the issuing of a passport for your child
Before an Australian passport can be issued for a child, all parties with parental responsibility are required to give consent or there must be a Court order allowing the child to travel internationally. There are special circumstances where a parent can apply for a child passport without full consent. If you suspect that your ex-partner may be trying to get a passport issued for your child, seek legal advice. Your family lawyer will help you determine the best course of action, which may include lodging a Child Alert Request at the Australian Passport Office or applying for a Court order to prevent a passport from being issued.
Preventing your child from leaving Australia
If your child already has a passport, consider managing the passport in a way that stops your ex from taking possession of it without your consent. One way to arrange it is to get a Court order to have the child’s passport handed in and kept by the Court. You can also request a Court order to prevent travel. As soon as the proceedings have begun, your child’s name can be placed on the Airport Watch List and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will be alerted if there is an attempt to take your child out of the country. Your family lawyer will advise you of the quickest way to put these procedures into action.
Making sure that your child returns to Australia
You may find it reasonable that your ex wants to take your children to visit family overseas, but you could be worried that they will not return, and you have a good reason to be concerned. 50 per cent of parental abductions involve failure to come back from an authorised visit. In this case, it is possible to have a Court order issued where the child is permitted to travel only under certain conditions and your ex will have to provide evidence that all conditions have been met prior to travel. You family lawyer can assist you with this process to ensure your child’s safety and your own piece of mind.