Bon Voyage! Forever?

Have you ever had the feeling that your ex is going to jet off with the kids to visit grandma and grandpa and never return? Or perhaps go on an extended holiday to Europe with the kids but enjoy it just a little too much?

Well, the good news is that you are not alone and many other dads are thinking the exact same thing. In fact, family law in Australia has seen an increase in the number of cases where one parent has taken the kids overseas and, unbeknown to dad, has no intention of returning home. These cases are called child abduction cases and they are extremely serious in family law.

The bad news is that not all countries are willing to give the kids back so easily when they are taken from Australia. This is particularly true for countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Haiti, Iran, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan and Sudan, whose laws are particularly hazy when it comes to child abduction.

If you are worried that mum is going to jet off to a destination unknown and that she has the means to do so (i.e. she has the kid’s passports and the funds), you should act quickly to stop the kids leaving the country. Once they are offshore – it is difficult to get them back onshore.

You should know your options about either stopping the kids from leaving the country or recovering them as quickly as possible if they have already left. Options available to parents in these circumstances include applying to the court for a child alert order, an order requiring the delivery of the children’s passport to the court for safekeeping or an order placing the children on the Airport Watch List.

Once they are offshore – it is difficult to get them back onshore.

Whilst child abduction cases can be a particularly stressful time for parents who desperately want their children back safe and sound, it is important that we don’t forget about the kids and the emotional trauma which child abduction cases can have on them. They may be excited to go on the family holiday which mum had promised them and often have no idea of the bigger plans going on in the background.

Imagine being told you are spending school holidays visiting nonna and nonno in Italy, only to find the Italian police knocking at the door telling you that your holiday is over and you are getting on the next plane home. This is what recovery orders can look like, they can be messy, disruptive and stressful, but they are often necessary if you ever want to see your kids again.

To avoid situations like this, it is important that you get help early if you think your ex could be a flight risk. After all, you never know it could be the long-lost sister-in-law from Lebanon that your ex is now very excited about visiting that is cause of concern…

HNT Legal supports Fathers and the irreplaceable role they play in children’s lives and are behind the Australian Dads’ Network in the important work they do in ensuring those roles remain at the forefront of Family Law.

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