Child Abducted Overseas to Member Country of Hague Convention
If your child is abducted and taken to a country outside Australia, then how difficult it may be to recover your child back to Australia, will depend on whether the country they are in is a signatory to the Hague Convention.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international agreement between some countries that covers international parental child abduction.
In our separate information sheet you can see a list of countries that are Hague Convention Countries. This list is updated from time to time by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department.
Australia is a signatory to the International Treaty on Child Abduction, known as the Hague Convention.
More than 70 other countries are also signatories to the Hague Convention.
The Hague Convention makes it easier to recover a child from a country which is a signatory to the Hague Convention than if the child is taken to a non Hague Convention country.
When a child has been either:
- Abducted; or
- kept overseas for a longer than agreed;
then the Hague Convention enables a parent to make an application to have their child returned to Australia.
You can only do this if the country your child is in is a Hague Convention Country.
This usually occurs through the exercise of the power of the State Central Authority, which in Australia, is the Commonwealth Attorney General.
The State Central Authority of the country in which the child is in, makes an application in a local court for the return of a child to Australia. The application must be made under the terms of the Hague Convention. It is important that you obtain legal advice to properly prepare your Application.
A child who has been wrongfully removed from Australia (or kept overseas for longer than agreed in) a Hague Convention Country will usually be returned if you can prove to the court:
- The child is under 16 years of age;
- You have parental responsibility of the child, unless your parental responsibility has been taken away by a Court order;
- You were exercising your parental responsibility when child was removed from Australia;
- The child was habitually resident in Australia immediately before the child was removed from Australia;
- Your child was removed to, or kept in, a Hague Convention Country; and
- You did not agree to the child being taken to, or kept in, the Hague Convention Country.
The other parent or guardian who has removed your child from Australia may be able to keep your child in the Hague Convention Country if they can prove to the Court:
- More than a year has passed since you made the application for the return of the child to Australia and the child has now settled in their new country;
- You did not have parental responsibility of the child;
- You were not exercising parental responsibility for the child;
- There is a serious risk of physical or psychological harm, or the child would be placed in an intolerable situation, if the child was returned to where they used to live with you;
- The child doesn’t want to go back to Australia and has reached an age and level of maturity which requires the Court to consider the views of the child;
- The return of the child would result in the child being denied their fundamental human rights.
Access to a Child taken Overseas
The Hague Convention also provides a procedure through which the left-behind parent (parent in Australia) can seek to have their child returned to their home country of Australia.
The Hague Convention also deals with international child access. When a parent or guardian lives overseas, it may be really difficult for that parent to spend time or communicate with their child.
This access could be either the parent or the child travelling to allow them to visit each other, or the access could include telephone calls, Skype, email or other long-distance forms of contact.
The Hague Convention provides a procedure through which a parent can seek to have court orders made in the child’s home country allowing them to have access with their child.
For more information on the Hague Convention
For more information on the Hague Convention, including a status table for each signatory country, click here to read the full text of the Convention.
If your child has been taken to a Hague Convention Country then read our information sheet about what you need to do to recover them under the Hague Convention.
We also have a information sheet on the situation if your child is taken to a Non Hague Convention Country.
Relocation, International & Domestic Child Abduction: More Information
We also have the following pages providing additional information in relation to both Relocation of a Parent with a Child within Australia (domestically) and International Child Abduction:
- List of Hague Convention Countries
- What happens when a Child is taken to a Hague Convention Country
- What happens when a Child is taken to a Non-Hague Convention Country
- How to get a Passport for a Child
- How to make a Special Circumstances Application for a Child Passport
- Stopping a Child Travelling overseas: Child already has Passport
- Stopping a Child Travelling Overseas: No Passport for Child Issued yet
- Court Orders regarding Passports and Overseas Travel Orders
- Matters considered by Courts regarding issuing a Passport or making an Overseas Travel Order
- Can I stop the other Parent Relocating with my Child
- We’re on friendly terms – Do I worry about possible relocation
- The other parent might relocate: Do I need to do anything?
- Court Orders about Relocation explained in full
- How does a Court decide Relocation Cases if a Parent moves away or wants to move away
- Documenting your Parenting Agreement in a Binding and Enforceable way
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All Topics in the Child Issues Section
- Types of Parental Responsibility Orders
- Child’s Time with Parents: Shared Care or not
- Grandparents: Rights to see Grandchildren
- Documenting a Parenting Agreement
- Best Interests of the Children
- Relocation of a Parent with a Child
- Change of a Child’s Surname
- Child Passports & Overseas Travel after Separation or Divorce
- How to change a Final Parenting Order previously made by the Court
- International Child Abduction