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International family law and children

Families who are split across international borders face unique challenges. Disputes between these families can have significant effects on both children and parents in a variety of ways.

The Australian Central Authority in the Attorney-General's Department is responsible for administering the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention is a multilateral treaty in force between Australia and a number of other countries. It provides a lawful procedure for seeking the return of abducted children to their home country. It also provides assistance to parents to obtain contact or access to children overseas.

The Australian Central Authority is responsible for administering the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children (the Child Protection Convention), which came into force in Australia on 1 August 2003. The Child Protection Convention provides for international cooperation between convention countries to recognise protective measures for children.

You can contact the Australian Central Authority if you have any general questions about the Hague Conventions, the process for making an application to have a child returned to Australia, access application or court order registration application. Please note we cannot provide specific legal advice in relation to your situation.

  • International parental child abduction—find out what you can do if your child has been, or may be, abducted to another country.
  • International child access—find out how to make an application for access to a child under the Hague Child Abduction Convention or Australia's bilateral agreements with Egypt and Lebanon.
  • Registration of overseas child orders—find out how to have overseas child court orders registered in Australia, or Australian orders registered in other countries.
  • Information for responding parents—information for parents who have brought their child to Australia and may need to respond to a Hague Convention application for the return of their child to another country. Also, information if you are required to return your child to Australia by a court order or if you are voluntarily returning your child to your home country (habitual residence), including information on emergency housing, financial assistance, counselling and support services.
  • International child protection—for information on the 1996 Hague Child Protection Convention.
  • Support and assistance—contact details and links to organisations that can provide support in Hague matters.