Enforcing the Return of Children From an Overseas Destination

Seeking the return of a child from an overseas country can be a highly stressful time for any parent. Adding to this stress can be an array of complex governmental and legal procedures and rules that must be adhered to when seeking a child’s return.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty that was created to discourage the increasing incidents of international child abduction.

Countries that are signatories to the treaty will essentially assist in the return of children found to be wrongfully detained in that country. Convention countries are not concerned with the parenting issues in dispute but primarily focus on what country is the appropriate forum to hear any such dispute. In most instances this will be the country where the child has usually resided.

Australia became a signatory to the Convention in January 1987. The Australian Government’s Attorney-General’s Department currently oversees it operation.

A full list of signatory countries can be found on the Attorney-General’s website.

Should a child/ren be unlawfully detained in a non-Hague Convention country, the outcome for the parent seeking relief can be uncertain.

The only avenue open to parents faced with this dilemma is to initiate proceedings under the laws of the country in which the child is detained. As each country in the world maintains its own unique system of family law, the outcome can often be uncertain. Parents faced with making an application under the laws of a non-Hague Convention country are encouraged to enlist the services of legal representatives in both the country of their primary residence and the overseas location where the child is being detained.

Protecting your children


Separating parents are actively encouraged to openly discuss the issue of overseas travel for their children.

Should you be concerned as to the potential for an overseas abduction or unlawful detainment, you should seek immediate legal assistance.

To find out more, please contact our Family Law team.