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Overseas child abduction

The Attorney-General's Department helps parents or guardians whose children are being retained in another country, by another person, without their consent.

Applications can be made to the department for grants to cover:

  • the overseas legal costs of obtaining a court order for the return of a child to Australia
  • flights for the return of a child to Australia
  • flights for people who are required to attend overseas legal proceedings or to escort a child back to Australia.

The department cannot cover:

  • costs for access or visitation with a child
  • any Australian legal costs.

The department will not, generally, cover the cost of any legal fees or expenses incurred before an application is made.


Assistance is available to people whose child has been either:

  • removed from Australia by another person without their consent, or
  • retained outside Australia by another person without their consent.

Assistance is only available where the child is less than 16 years old, and was habitually resident in Australia immediately before the removal or retention.

Funding will not generally be granted to persons who:

  • can meet the cost without incurring serious financial difficulty
  • do not have reasonable prospects of having a child returned to Australia
  • are eligible for legal assistance in the overseas country.

Special considerations

From 2 July 2018, the following considerations must be taken into account by the decision maker when considering applications:

  • whether the applicant has been the subject of criminal proceedings in Australia or overseas, and – if so – the gravity, nature and outcome of those proceedings
  • if the person is overseas, the circumstances under which they departed Australia.

Further information about special considerations is available on page 21 of the Commonwealth Guidelines for Legal Financial Assistance 2012.

How to apply

Download an application form and a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check Form and email the completed copies to with the required attachments.

Please submit the Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check Form directly to the department along with your completed application. Do not submit the form to any other organisation, as the department will submit it on your behalf as part of the assessment of your application.

If you cannot send your application by email, contact the Financial Assistance Section.

Assessment timeframe

Complete applications will be assessed within 28 days. Incomplete applications will not be assessed. You will be notified if your application is incomplete.


More information is available in the guidelines:

Assessment of Costs

Monetary limits apply to certain disbursements. More information is available in the department's cost assessment policy:


Contact details

1800 117 995 OR 02 6141 4770
Outside Australia: +61 2 6141 4770