International Child Abductions In Australia: The Law

father with child

In Australia, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) maintains a database called the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC), which collects and analyses data on missing persons, including children. According to the NMPCC’s annual report for the financial year 2019-2020, there were a total of 6,705 reported missing persons cases in Australia during that period. Of these, 3,295 were classified as “youth” cases, which include children and young persons up to the age of 17.


However, not all cases of reported missing children in Australia are classified as child abductions. Some cases may involve children who have run away from home, are reported missing but are later found safe, or are abducted by a parent or guardian without legal consent. Parental child abduction or international parental child abduction, are considered serious and can have legal consequences.

What is Parental Child Abduction?

Parental child abduction refers to the wrongful removal or retention of a child by one parent without the consent of the other parent or legal guardian. In Australia, parental child abduction is considered a serious offense and is subject to legal consequences under both domestic and international laws.

Withholding Child From Parent in Australia

Parental child abduction can also occur within the borders of Australia, where one parent wrongfully withholds a child from the other parent in violation of a custody or access order. This can happen in situations where there is a breakdown of a meaningful relationship between the parents, and one parent takes matters into their own hands to prevent the other parent from having contact with the child. This can sometimes occur where this also an allegation of domestic violence or overall family violence.


In Australia, withholding a child from a parent without a valid reason is considered a serious violation of family law. The Family Court of Australia has the authority to issue orders for the return of the child and enforce custody or access arrangements. In cases of withholding a child from a parent, the court may consider the best interests of the child and may take into account factors such as the child’s relationship with both parents, the child’s wellbeing, and the history of care arrangements between the parents.

How Can I Legally Regain Custody of my Child in Australia?

If you are the parent or guardian, you have the option to apply for a recovery order in Australia. A recovery order is a legal mechanism defined in Section 67Q of the Family Law Act 1975. It can be used to direct law enforcement, such as a police officer, to take action. This action includes locating, retrieving, and returning a child to their designated parent or guardian. Furthermore, a recovery order can also include provisions to prevent the person from taking possession of or removing the child again, with the aim of preventing further incidents of parental child abduction.


Family law disputes are generally encouraged to be resolved through mediation and negotiation before going to court. You may be required to participate in dispute resolution processes, such as family dispute resolution or mediation, to try to reach an agreement on custody arrangements. If an agreement is reached, it can be formalised into a parenting plan with parenting orders or consent orders.

International Child Abduction

International child abduction occurs when a child is taken from one country to another without the consent of the other parent or legal guardian, or in violation of a court order. Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is an international treaty that aims to facilitate the prompt return of children who have been wrongfully taken or retained across international borders.


Under the Hague Convention, if a child has been wrongfully removed from or retained in Australia, the left-behind parent can file an application for the child’s return to the Central Authority in Australia. The Australian Central Authority is responsible for coordinating with the relevant authorities in the country where the child has been taken to resolve the situation and ensure the child’s prompt return, unless certain exceptions apply.

Can I take My Child Overseas Without Fathers Permission in Australia?

In Australia, a parent taking a child without permission overseas without the other parent or legal guardian is generally considered to be parental child abduction, unless certain exceptions apply. If one parent wishes to take a child overseas for a temporary or permanent relocation, they are generally required to obtain the consent of the other parent or legal guardian, or obtain a court order allowing the child to be taken overseas.


Accordingly, if a parent takes a child overseas without the other parent’s consent, the left-behind parent can take legal action to seek the child’s return. This may involve filing an application with the court for the return of the child under the Hague Convention and other applicable laws.


The rules regarding taking a child overseas without the other parent’s permission can vary depending on the specific circumstances, such as the child’s age, the custody arrangements, and any court orders in place.

Child Recovery Order in Australia

A Child Recovery Order in Australia is a court order that is issued by the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia with the aim of facilitating the return of a child who has been wrongfully removed or retained by one parent or guardian. Child Recovery Orders are typically sought in cases of parental child abduction or withholding of a child from a parent in violation of custody or access arrangements.


Child Recovery Orders are governed by the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), which is the primary legislation that regulates family law matters in Australia. According to the Family Law Act, a Child Recovery Order may be issued if the court is satisfied that:


  • The child has been wrongfully removed from Australia, wrongfully retained in Australia, or wrongfully removed or retained in a part of Australia; and/or
  • There is a risk that the child may be taken from Australia or retained outside Australia, and the child’s best interests require the issuance of the order.

A Child Recovery Order may be issued by the court upon application by a parent, guardian, or any other person who has an interest in the care, welfare, or development of the child. The court will consider various factors, including the best interests of the child, the history of care arrangements, the relationship between the child and the parties involved, and any other relevant circumstances, in determining whether to issue the order.


Once a Child Recovery Order is issued, it authorises and empowers the applicant, and any person named in the order, to take all necessary and reasonable steps to find, recover, and return the child to the person named in the order or another person determined by the court. This may involve enlisting the assistance of law enforcement agencies, such as the police, to locate and return the child. Child Recovery Orders are legally binding and failure to comply with a Child Recovery Order may result in serious consequences, including criminal charges.


Child Recovery Orders are a complex legal matter, and seeking legal advice from a child custody lawyer is highly recommended. The process of obtaining a Child Recovery Order can involve various legal procedures, including court applications, hearings, drafting of affidavits and compliance with court orders. It’s crucial to understand and follow the legal requirements and procedures involved to ensure the best outcome for the child and all parties involved.


Contact a family lawyer in Sydney from Lyons Law Group for child recovery orders.

Need A Family Lawyer?

Send An Online Enquiry

Contact Mohammad Khan

    What Our Clients Say About Us

    Russell Lew
    Read More
    Super knowledgeable amazing service extremely supportive thank you so much.
    Omar M
    Read More
    A BIG thank you to Lyons Law Group with helping me achieve the best outcome for my case. From day one they were very professional, straight to the point and very easy to communicate with, keeping me updated and informed with everything I needed to know. Honestly, exceptional service and support. Thank you once again to Mohammad & Team.
    Edward Hinds
    Read More
    Lyons Law Group is amazing. They are very professional, sympathetic, and helpful. I was kept informed during every step. The level of support was second to none. Mohammad went above and beyond and updated me regularly. Hijram too was amazing. Her calls and court representation made me feel at ease. This was a great experience. I cannot recommend Lyons Law Group enough. My gratitude extends to all involved in the handling of my case.
    Layalle Itaoui
    Read More
    Thank you Lyons Law Group on providing me an exceptional service delivered with care, compassion and a high level of professionalism. The outcome was more than what I had expected. A true reflection of your legal expertise and experience. Thank you Mohammad and team.
    Tristan Bartolome
    Read More
    10/10 WOULD RECOMMEND!!! Last year I was caught up in some trouble and in need of desperate help my friend recommended William from Lyons Law Group. Although there was less than 3 weeks to prepare, William was happy to help me out despite there being such limited time to work with. Despite the limited time William had to work with, he made me feel confident during the whole time and also taught me a lot in the process. In the end he got me an outcome that was better than I thought I would have gotten! I will definitely go back to William if I ever need legal help again!
    Mala Singh
    Read More
    Very professional, reasonable pricing and very supportive. The most stressful time of my life Mohammed was honest and driven to get the best possible outcome for me. Thank you Lyons team
    Daniel Blackwell
    Read More
    Helped me get the best possible outcome for my personal scenario. Their patience and professionalism are outstanding, I was given pure human understanding. Thank you
    Alan Lu
    Read More
    Lyons Law was professional and provided exceptional service to get the best result. I would recommend engaging them. Particular mention and thanks to the solicitor William Lam.
    Read More
    Great teamwork, great people. Highly recommended. Thank you Lyons Law Group


    • Lyons Law Group | Criminal Defence Lawyers

      Lyons Law Group is a boutique firm of expert criminal solicitors and barristers. Lyons Law Group is dedicated to strong advocacy when representing its clients with an approach that is tailored to every client’s specific needs.