Project Description

Child Abduction

Child Abduction

Unfortunately, after a relationship ends one parent may not be happy with their Parenting Order or child custody arrangements. Some people may take desperate and illegal measures including abducting or kidnapping their children.

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    Abducting a child means that you have taken or held a child without having the legal authority to do so. So if you do not have legal custody rights over your child at a point in time, you may be abducting them if you do not have consent to take or hold them.

    Our local family lawyers can help you:

    • Defend a charge of child abduction.
    • Represent you in a child abduction case.
    • Apply to have your Parenting Order changed.

    Breaching a Parenting Order

    If you take your child when you’re not supposed to under your parenting plan and your child’s other parent doesn’t consent you may be in breach of your Parenting Order. This is a serious offence and should be avoided. There may be other options available to you if you’d like to have more time with your children or if you want to move to another town, city or state.

    If you do want to move you may be able to change your written parenting plan. Perhaps your child could spend school holidays or have longer visits with you throughout the year. If you and your ex-partner can’t agree on a change to your parenting plan, you can apply to the Court for permission to relocate. The Court will consider what is in the best interests of your child and may not agree to your relocation.

    It’s possible to prove that you’re not the biological father by taking a legal paternity test.

    Child Abduction is a Criminal Offence in Australia

    In NSW it’s illegal to abduct a child. If you’re found guilty of child abduction you can be imprisoned for up to 10 years or may even be found guilty of kidnapping which has a maximum prison term of 14 years.

    Child abduction is when you take or detain a child under the age of 12 with the intention of keeping them from the person who has legal rights to have the child without their consent.

    Kidnapping is when you take or detain someone without their consent and you had the intention of:

    • Committing another offence like assault or child abduction; or
    • Obtaining another advantage; or
    • Holding the person to ransom.

    If you are charged with child abduction or kidnapping, there are some defences available to you. These include:

    • You acted under duress or necessity.
    • You’re the child’s parent and you’re not breaching any court orders.
    • The child has voluntarily chosen to come or remain with you.

    Overseas Child Abduction

    If you want to take your children on a holiday, either in Australia or overseas, you’ll need to have the permission of their other parent in writing. You’ll also need this written permission to get a passport for your child. If you don’t get this you may be accused of international child abduction.

    If you’re worried about your ex-partner taking your children overseas without your permission you do have legal options. You can apply to the Court to prevent a passport being issued for your child or prevent them from leaving Australia.  You can apply to the Court to order:

    • That the child cannot be taken from Australia;
    • The Australian Federal Police to put your child’s name on the Airport Watch List; and
    • The Australian Federal Police to help implement its orders.

    If your child is taken from Australia you may also be able to ask other countries to help return your children. Australia is a member of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This means we have agreements with some countries to return children that are abducted to their home. If you want to do this you will need to apply to the International Family Law Section of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.


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