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Rebecca Lewis

- 26 Nov 2015
  • Family Law

When distance really matters

Family relationships breakdown and families move on. Sometimes work, or a new relationship may mean moving to a country far from where you have lived with your children.

If your children are under 18, this will need proper measures to be put in place to ensure that their relationship with you and their living arrangements are secure and protected.

If you have come to live in Australia with your children and are separated from your partner who lives in another country, the law may quickly become very complicated.

You and your ex-partner may have some informal arrangements for the children. This may work perfectly well, but what if things change?

If you do not have a formal arrangement with your ex-partner, there is a risk that they will take the initiative to have the children returned to them and this can be traumatising for everyone.

If this happens, locating the children and returning them to you may quickly become a complex and costly legal action in two separate countries.

Remember too, that the laws in the two countries may be quite different when it comes to decisions about where and with whom children are to live and therefore there is no certainty in the outcome.

Australia is a member of the Hague Convention, an international treaty that provides for matters including child abduction, protection and co-operation in respect of parental responsibility.

If your former partner obtains passports for the children and they are taken from you, it is possible that they may leave Australia very quickly.

Urgent measures can be taken to locate the children and have them returned to you. You will also need to apply urgently to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court of Australia for children’s orders.

If the children are out of Australia, significant time may lapse in this process before they are returned to you and even then the outcome is not certain.

The good news is that one of our DBH Family Lawyers can assist you to have a court order in place in Australia. This will help prevent a disastrous result if the absent parent has a change of mind and decides to take action.