Six warning signs of possible child abduction

by Peter Magee on October 1, 2010

Peter Magee

The Government’s missing persons website is run by the Australian Federal Police.  According to the website, “There are serious emotional consequences for the abducted child taken from all that is familiar, most usually to the parent’s country of origin. As the child is already dealing with the breakdown of the family unit, this additional trauma can cause emotional problems which if not treated in an ongoing way, can have lasting consequences.

They go on to say,“The left behind parent also suffers considerable grief, anger and guilt which will affect ongoing relationships with other children as well as children who have been abducted. The abducting parent is also usually in need of therapeutic help.”

The incidence of international child abductions is greater than official figures reveal.

Some of the warning signs of impending abduction include:

  1. The other parent is planning a trip away from Australia with your child;
  2. Your ex-spouse is coming from overseas to Australia and you are worried they plan to abduct your child;
  3. Your ex-spouse wants you to co-sign your child’s Australian passport without good reason;
  4. Your  child is a citizen of a country which allows one parent alone to apply for the child’s passport and you have a fear of child abduction;
  5. The other parent has a home, a family or other connections overseas and you are concerned that there is no reason for them to stay in Australia;
  6. The other parent has no substantial property or employment in Australia, and nothing keeping them here.

In addition, you should obtain urgent legal advice if:

  1. The other parent has already left Australia with your child;
  2. You are not sure if they plan to return or if you believe they will not return;
  3. There is a link to overseas family or property;
  4. There is no other significant link to Australia.

If any of the above applies to you, you should make an urgent appointment to see a family lawyer for further advice specific to your situation.

How to search for an abducted child

What steps can you take if you want to know the location of a child who you believe has been abducted? Under the Family Law Act, certain people can apply for a location order in relation to a child. A location order is an order made by a court that requires a person to provide information about a child’s location to the court.

The following people can apply for a location order:

  • a person who a child is to live with in accordance with a parenting order;
  • a person who a child is to spend time with in accordance with a parenting order;
  • a person who a child is to communicate with under a parenting order;
  • a person who has parental responsibility for a child under a parenting order;
  • a grandparent of a child;
  • any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of a child;
  • For the purposes of the Child Protection Convention, a person (including the Commonwealth Central Authority) may apply to a court for a location order.

If you suspect a child is about to be abducted and taken out of the country you need to act quickly. Call us and talk to a specialist family lawyer today.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kamontip June 6, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Hi. I was born in Thailand. I got married in 2002 and I have got one son. I divorced in 2009. My son stays with his dad in Victoria and I pick up my son every school holiday. My dad and my family are still in Thailand. I want to take my son to visit my family for 2 weeks but his dad says I can’t take my son overseas until he’s 18 years old but I don’t think my dad can wait that long because he is starting to get sick. How can I take my son to just visit my family? His Dad worries that I will not bring him back to Australia.

Peter Magee June 8, 2011 at 3:26 pm

If you would like to take your son to Thailand to visit family, then the court is likely to grant such an application provided there are no risks you will not return to Australia.

If you seek the father’s consent to the trip, and he denies your request, then you can file an application in a family court for permission to leave Australia with your son, and obtain your son’s passport. You may need to prove links to Australia (such as money, other family, real estate, jobs) as evidence you plan to return with your son to Australia after the holiday. You may also need to send the father copies of proposed airline itineries, contact details while overseas and so on.

Note that Thailand is not a signatory to the Hague Convention in relation to abduction of children. This means that if you were to remain in Thailand with your son, the father may have great difficulty in having your son returned to Australia. However, if you can put on evidence as described above, the court will consider your application carefully.

We can assist you in the court procedures if you are in Sydney or Canberra. Please telephone us to make an appointment.

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