The 60 Minutes news team has recently been in the news headlines
for all the wrong reasons after travelling overseas with a mother
to try and recover Australian children removed by their father. The
mother and the 60 Minutes crew may have been better served by
seeking to implement a recovery order through our International
A recovery order is a Court order requiring that a child be
returned to a parent; a person who has a parenting order that
states the child lives with them, spends time with them or
communicates with them; or a person who has parental responsibility
for the child. A recovery order is usually a last resort when a
parent (or other relevant person) refuses to return a child.
The order can authorise or direct a person or persons, such as
police officers, to take appropriate action to find, recover and
deliver a child to one of the people above. It can also provide
directions about the day-to-day care of the child until they are
returned or delivered.
A recovery order can also prohibit someone removing or taking
possession of the child again, authorising their arrest (without
warrant) if they remove or take possession of the child.
You can apply for a recovery order if you are a:
Person who the child lives with, spends time with or
communicates with, as stated in a parenting order
Person who has parental responsibility for the child in a
Grandparent of the child, or
Person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the
child. For example, the child lives or spends time with you but it
isn't covered by a parenting order.
To receive recovery orders you need to file an application with
the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of
Australia, together with a supporting Affidavit which sets out:
Evidence of your relationship with the child and their care
arrangements prior to them not being returned
Details of the child's living arrangements
Details of any previous Court Orders involving the child
(including Apprehended Violence Orders if appropriate)
Any concerns you have about the child's safety whilst in
the care of the other person.
As with all other matters relating to the care arrangements for
your child, the Court's main consideration will be the best
interests of the child, including whether there is a risk of harm
to the child.
In the event that the Court makes an order for the return of the
child, it will usually Order that the person withholding the child
return them (this scenario usually causes the least disruption to
the child). However, in situations where the party is unwilling to
return them, responsibility for locating and returning the child
will be assigned to the Australian Federal Police and any relevant
International Recovery Orders
If your child has been taken from Australia without consent, or
hasn't been returned to Australia within the agreed timeframe,
you should seek immediate legal advice and contact the Commonwealth
Attorney-General's Department for assistance.
Australia is party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects
of International Child Abduction, which seeks to protect children
from being wrongfully removed to, or kept in another country, and
outlines procedures for their prompt return.
Simply, what this means is that Australia has an agreement with
some countries to return abducted children to their usual country
of residence. It also provides assistance to parents to contact or
access their children overseas.
The Australian Central Authority in the Attorney-General's
Department is responsible for administering the Civil Aspects of
International Child Abduction and may be able to assist you to
recover your child if they have been taken to a country that is a
member of the Hague Convention.
Returning to the 60 Minutes team, although Lebanon isn't a
member of the Hague Convention, Australia does have a bilateral
agreement on child welfare with the country (we also have one with
Egypt) which sets out a pathway for Australian authorities to seek
the return of children removed to it.
Therefore, it's always best to seek assistance in the first
instance, rather than taking matters into your own hands which can
result, as in this current case, in you and others being charged
with criminal offences overseas.
If you have concerns about your child being removed from
Australia, there are steps you can take to prevent it. To read more
about this please refer to our
Airport Watch List Orders blog.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
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