It is estimated that every week, two or three children either enter Australia or leave the country without their parent's consent. If you have recently separated from your partner and there is a dispute over who should have custody of your child, you might be worried that your ex-partner may attempt to abduct them. Below is a guide to the steps you can take to protect your child from abduction.
Prevent a passport from being issued
Before a child passport is issued, Australia law requires both parents to give their full consent. If your partner applies for a passport for your child and you withhold your consent, the family court will not grant permission for the child to travel internationally. If you are worried about your partner's plans to obtain a passport for your child, you should speak with a family lawyer. The lawyer will be able to advise you of the best course of action, which may include filing a Child Alert Request with the Australian Passport Office.
Request that the court take possession of an existing passport
If you child has already been issued with a passport, you should consider the steps you can take to prevent your ex-partner from gaining access to it. The easiest way to do this is to apply for a court order, which will mean that the judge will take possession of the passport. You can also request that the court places your child's name on the Airport Watch List. If your ex-partner attempts to leave the country with your child, they will be stopped at airport security. A family lawyer can help you to file these request with the court.
Request travel conditions
You may feel that your ex-partner has a reasonable reason to take your child to another country, to visit family for example. However, there is always the risk that your ex will not return. Half of all abductions carried out by a parent involve the failure to return from an authorised overseas trip. The best way to combat this risk is to apply for a court order that places conditions on travel, such as having a third party supervise the trip or a requirement for them to register with the local police once they arrive.
If you have any concerns about the whereabouts or welfare of your child, you should speak to a family lawyer today for further help and advice.