Parental abduction is a crime, and refers to the act of forcefully removing children from the other parent without their consent.

A Queensland mother accused of disappearing with her twin daughters has been denied bail after fronting a Queensland Court.

The 46-year-old woman was extradited to Queensland on Saturday, four years after the three of them vanished from her Townsville home in April 2014. She faced two counts of child stealing in Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning after being extradited from Taree in northern New South Wales on the weekend.

The children were recovered after an extensive joint investigation by Australian Federal Police and their Queensland counterparts. It’s been four years since the children’s father last saw them.

Police said in 2014 that they did not fear for the safety of the children in the care of their mother. The children, from Townsville, were aged seven when they were allegedly abducted by their mother in April 2014. After a lengthy police operation, they were found hiding in Taree on Friday morning.

The most comprehensive study into the long-term effects of international child abduction found more than 70 per cent of the children involved reported suffering significant effects on their mental health.

British researcher and family law specialist Dr Marilyn Freeman conducted the study which was released in 2014..

She found children who had been abducted spoke repeatedly about their confusion, feelings of shame, self-hate, loneliness and insecurity.

The study concluded more must be done to protect children from parental abduction and its effects.

Relocation isn’t Parental Abduction

Moving with your child/ren to another town, state or country following a divorce is known as relocation. If moving is going to limit the time your child/ren live with or spend with a parent or another significant person in their lives, a court may not give permission. In order to relocate, you’ll need to obtain the permission of the other parent, and if you can’t obtain this, apply to the court for permission. Parental abduction is never the answer if you want to move.

You may be able to reach an agreement for the child/ren to stay with the other parent for longer periods of time in school holidays and/or longer visits during the year. Your former partner may be able to move to where you are hoping to relocate.

divorce, separation, parenting arrangements, child custody, parental abduction, divorce lawyers brisbaneIf you reach agreement with the other party, it is best to enter into a written parenting plan or apply to the Family Court for consent orders before you move so that any agreement you make is enforceable under the law.

If you cannot agree about relocating, you can apply to a court for orders to allow you to move. The Court may not grant permission. The Court will consider the best interests and welfare of the child/ren.

If you move without a court order or without the consent of the other party, a court may require you to return with the child/ren until the case has reached an outcome. If there is a court order in place, you will be breaking the order and the other parent can apply to enforce the current order.

Can my child/ren travel overseas?

If you are planning a holiday and plan to travel overseas with your child/ren, you should advise the other parent (and any other person with parental responsibility) of your intention as soon as possible. You should include full details of where you will go, confirm a full itinerary will be provided and include contact numbers for hotels or relatives.

If written consent is provided by all parties with parental responsibility, applications can be lodged at an authorised Australia Post office or any Australian Passport Office.

If written consent is not provided by all parties with parental responsibility, you can make a written request to the Approved Senior Officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to consider issuing the passport due to ‘special circumstances’.

If you are concerned that a child/ren may leave Australia without your permission, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

You can apply to the Court for an order that:

  1. prevents a passport being issued for a child;
  1. requires a person to deliver a child’s or accompanying adult’s passport to the Court; or
  2. prevents a child/ren from leaving Australia.

If there is a possibility or threat that a child/ren may be removed from Australia, the Court can make orders which:

  • restrain the removal of the child from Australia
  • request that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) place the child’s name on the Airport Watch List, and
  • request that the AFP assist in the implementation of the order/s.

What to do if you fear parental abduction

If the court has issued a parenting order and it is breached, a court may issue a location order. This requires other people or organisations, to give any information they have about where you and the child/ren may be located.

If you breach the parenting order by failing to return the child/ren as required, a court may also make a recovery order.

If your child/ren has been taken from Australia without your consent, or has not been returned to Australia, you should contact the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department for assistance.

Australia has an agreement with some countries to return abducted children to their country of usual residence. This agreement is called the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention).

If you need assistance with any aspect of divorce, parenting arrangements or family law, contact our friendly team today. We offer a FREE, 10-minute phone consultation.