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Support and assistance

The following organisations may be able to assist in relation to international family law matters.

International Social Service (ISS) Australia

International Social Service (ISS) Australia provides a range of free legal and social support services to those affected by international child abduction.

ISS can provide the following services to families and parents:

  • free legal assistance with preparation of applications for return of a child or access to a child under the Hague Convention
  • free legal advice to overseas applicant parents during mediation
  • mediation and negotiation with parents in other countries, and
  • counselling and social support services, including advice, information and referral to other services.

Contact ISS

Call: 1300 657 843

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Consular Office

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 assistance 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.

Contact details for Australian missions overseas are available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

The 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra can also be contacted for assistance from anywhere in the world on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 (local call cost within Australia).

Family Relationships Advice Line

The Family Relationships Advice Line is a national telephone service established to support families affected by relationship or separation issues. The Family Relationships Advice Line is available between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 4pm Saturday (local time), except national public holidays.

Call: 1800 050 321 or +61 7 3423 6878 from outside Australia

Family Relationships Online

Family Relationships Online also provides information about families and separation, and lists other services to help parents manage relationship issues, including agreeing on appropriate parenting arrangements for children.

Government legal financial assistance

We have legal financial assistance schemes available for a range of matters.

Overseas Child Abduction Scheme

The Overseas Abduction Scheme may provide funding to eligible parents or guardians whose children are being retained in another country, by another person, without their consent. You can apply for grants to cover overseas legal and other costs for the return of children to Australia. Visit the Overseas Child Abduction Scheme page to find out more.

International Child Abduction Respondents Scheme

The International Child Abduction Respondents Scheme (ICARS) may provide funding to eligible individuals who are responding to a 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction application for the return of a child, where application proceedings are filed:

  • in an Australian court
  • under the Family Law (Child Abduction Convention) Regulations 1986
  • on or after 1 January 2024.

For more information about legal financial assistance schemes, including how to apply, visit the Commonwealth legal financial assistance page.

Call: 02 6141 4770

Finding a lawyer in Australia

If you need legal advice from an Australian lawyer, the following websites may assist you to locate a lawyer, community legal centre, or legal aid commission in Australia:

Women's Legal Services Australia provide specialist, trauma-informed and wraparound legal assistance and social support services. To locate a service near you, visit Find Women's Legal Services in Your Area – Women's Legal Services Australia.

The Family Relationships Advice Line may also be able to refer you to a suitable service, and can be contacted on 1800 050 321 or +61 7 3423 6878 from outside Australia.

The following websites may help you to find a lawyer in Australia or overseas who specialises in international family matters:

Note: Any links provided are for the purpose of locating a lawyer in Australia or overseas. They do not indicate Australian Government endorsement of any lawyer or law firm that can be located using these search tools.

Other support services If you (or a family member or friend) need additional support, the following websites may be able to assist you:

Note: the support services (such as phone consultations) offered by these organisations are generally available only to those located in Australia.

Contact details

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