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International child abduction and child access

The Hague Child Abduction Convention entered into force between Australia and Japan on 1 April 2014.

International parental child abduction occurs when one parent or guardian takes their child from its home country without the permission of the other parent or guardian, or without the authorisation of a court.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is the main international agreement that covers international parental child abduction. It provides a process through which the left-behind parent can seek to have their child returned to their home country.

The Hague Convention also deals with issues of international child access. When a parent or guardian lives in a different country to the home country of their child, it may be hard to work out access to them.

Access can include telephone, Skype, email or other long-distance forms of contact. Access can also involve travel by either the parent or child to allow them to visit each other.

The Hague Convention provides a process through which a parent can seek to have access orders made in the child's home country allowing them to have access with their child.

Applications for return or access

An application under the Hague Convention for the return of a child or access to a child can only be made to or from a country that has signed the convention, and which Australia has recognised.

You can find more information about making an abduction application in the following documents and pages:

You can find more information about making an access application in the following documents and pages:

Help with your application

International Social Service (ISS) Australia can help applicants wishing to make an application for return or access under the Hague Convention. ISS Australia is funded by this department to provide this service free-of-charge to applicants. It also offers a range of other services including mediation and counselling. You can contact ISS Australia on 1300 657 843.

You may also be eligible for financial assistance from this department. This can help you with the cost of legal proceedings in another country or the cost of travel to collect and return a child. This assistance is offered under the Overseas child abduction scheme. We administer this scheme which is means and merits-tested.

For more information, call the Financial Assistance section on 02 6141 4770 or email finass@ag.gov.au.

Bilateral agreements with Egypt and Lebanon

Australia has bilateral agreements on international parental child abduction with Egypt and Lebanon-the Australia-Egypt Agreement, and the Australia-Lebanon Agreement.

Application forms for each agreement are available at:

Each form includes a guide on how to complete the form, and a statutory declaration form. You must submit the statutory declaration along with your completed application. For more information on statutory declarations, including who can witness your form, visit the statutory declarations page.

More information on how these agreements work, and how applications are processed is available at:

You can also call 1800 100 480 or email australiancentralauthority@ag.gov.au.

Where to send your application

When you have completed your application, send it to the Australian Central Authority:

International Family Law Section
Attorney-General's Department
3-5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600
AUSTRALIA

Arrangements with other countries

We can only help you with a return or access application if your child is in a Hague Convention country or in Egypt or Lebanon.

If your child is in another country, you may want to seek private legal advice in that country about your options.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) can provide limited consular help to parents whose children are located overseas. Depending on the legal and social services framework of the foreign jurisdiction, this may include providing a list of local lawyers, and facilitating liaison with local authorities and child welfare agencies to ensure the welfare of the child involved.

Call: 1300 555 135 (24-hour consular service)

Please note, financial assistance may be available to help parents with the cost of engaging a lawyer overseas for family law matters.

For more information, visit the overseas child abduction financial assistance page or call the Financial Assistance section on 02 6141 4770 or email finass@ag.gov.au.