What is child abduction?
The law defines child abduction to be the unlawful removal of a child from their legal caretaker, even with the consent of the child. This means that the defence of consent is not valid.
Parental child abduction is a criminal offence under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). Amendments ensure that offences can also extend to persons acting on behalf of the parent in attempting or succeeding in the abduction of a child.
How do I recover my child if an abduction has occurred?
If a child in your care has been abducted, you can apply to the Court for a recovery order. This empowers Australian Federal Police to investigate the activities and movements of the missing child and abducting parent. In the case of an international abduction and the abducting parent has removed the child from Australia, the AFP will cooperate with international agencies to find and return the child.
Defences to child abduction
Legitimate defences against a charge of child abduction exists. This may include a parent who is trying to escape domestic violence and wishes to protect the mental and physical health of their child. In addition to this, a general claim of self defence may be sufficient.
In instances where child abduction amounts to kidnapping, defences include self defence, necessity, duress, or claim of right.
Children abducted to non-Hague countries
The Hague convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international agreement between certain countries, covering international parental child abduction. A full copy of the convention is available at the following webpage, Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. If your child has been abducted to a non-Hague country, seek legal advice from an Australian family lawyer immediately. Consult a family lawyer in the non-Hague country. The International Academy of Family Lawyers is a starting point to finding a lawyer in most jurisdictions.
If you or someone you know wish to discuss this matter further, then please contact our experienced solicitors at 02 8999 9809 for assistance.