International parental child abduction
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.
If your child has been abducted from Australia—what should you do?
- Contact the Australian Federal Police for advice on placing your child's name on the Family Law Watchlist. Your child may not have yet left Australia and it may be possible to prevent them being removed from Australia.
- Seek legal advice. You will need a court order to place your child on the Family Law Watchlist. Obtaining recovery orders for your child may also be of assistance. Visit the Support and assistance page for resources to help you locate a lawyer or legal service near you.
- If your child has been taken to a country that is a member of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the Australian Central Authority may be able to assist you. For a list of member countries, visit the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction page.
- If your child has been taken to a country that is not a member of the Hague Convention, you may be able to get assistance from the Consular Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The service operates 24 hours a day and can be contacted on 1300 555 135.
Application process for the return of an abducted child to Australia
If you believe your child has been wrongfully removed from Australia or wrongfully retained overseas in a Hague Convention country without your consent, you can apply for the return of your child.
- Application form—Return of a child under the Hague Convention
- Your privacy when making an application under the Hague Convention
There are a number of requirements your application must satisfy in order to meet the terms of the convention. These are included in the following document:
There are other agencies and organisations who can assist you during this application process. This may include support with preparing an application, financial assistance and legal advice. For more details, visit the Support and assistance page or our Questions about international child abduction and access page.
Completed applications can be sent to the Australian Central Authority at:
International Family Law Section
3–5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600
Bilateral agreements with Egypt and Lebanon
More information about how these agreements work and how applications are processed is available in the following documents:
Application forms for each agreement are available below. Each form includes a statutory declaration form which must be submitted with your completed application.
For more information on statutory declarations, including who can witness your form, visit the statutory declarations page.
For more information about the application process, contact the Australian Central Authority on 1800 100 480 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your child is at risk of being abducted from Australia
There are some steps you can take if you are worried that your child may be abducted overseas by a parent or another family member. It is extremely important that you act quickly. You may also wish to seek additional support and assistance.
What you should do immediately
Make sure you have your child's official documents, including their passport (if they have one) and recent photos of the child and their other parent. You should also note the contact details of family and friends located overseas where the other parent may take your child.
Stopping your child leaving Australia
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) can place your child's name on the Family Law Watchlist, which is a system designed to prevent children whose parents are involved in family law proceedings being removed from Australia without the consent of the court.
To place your child's name on this list you must obtain a court order or an application for an immediate order to prevent your child being taken from Australia. The AFP may be able to prevent travel where it may constitute an offence. For more information, visit the Family law kit page on the Australian Federal Police website.
You can gain assistance to obtain these orders by contacting a lawyer, community legal centre or legal aid commission. Visit the Support and assistance page for resources to help you locate a lawyer or legal service near you.
Preventing the issuing of a passport to your child
A Child Alert Request is a warning to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that there may be circumstances that need to be considered before issuing an Australian passport or other travel document to a child.
If you are the parent, or person with a parental responsibility for a child, you can submit a Child Alert Request on the Australian Passport Office website.
A child alert will not prevent your child from travelling if they already hold an Australian passport or travel document issued by another country. You will need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of that country in Australia to find out if you can apply to stop a foreign passport being issued for your child. Contact details for foreign government representatives in Australia can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
If you are thinking of taking your child overseas
If you are a parent considering removing a child from Australia without the other parent's agreement you should think twice. Doing so may constitute a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison. If you want to relocate overseas with your child, you should seek the other parent's agreement in writing, or seek relocation orders through the Australian Family Law Courts.
Hague convention application statistics
The department publishes statistics relating to international parental child abduction in our annual reports.
For the 2019-20 Annual Report, refer to page 83 for these statistics.
For the 2018-19 Annual Report, refer to pages 45-46.
International Family Law Section
Australian Central Authority
1800 100 480 (or +61 2 6141 3100 from outside Australia)
3-5 National Circuit, BARTON ACT 2600