Family Law has been in the headlines lately, with the case of four Italian girls and their mother reported to be resisting an application that they be returned to Italy and their father.
The story took a turn when the father apparently returned to Italy without his children, after it was reported in the Sun Herald that the children apparently did not wish to return to Italy.
The legal story brings up a bigger issue of what the legal avenues are for parents who are involved in a child custody dispute and are afraid their children will be sent overseas.
Australia's legal system, specifically the Family Courts, provide avenues for parents who are involved in this type of situation:
· Take out an application with the Family Court that prevents a child from leaving Australia,
· Apply for an order which stipulates a child's or accompanying adult’s passport be registered with the Family Court
· Apply to the court for orders that prevent a new passport being issued,
· Make emergency orders where there is an immediate risk of a child being removed from Australia,
· Present to a captain or vessel owner a statutory declaration or notice of pending court proceedings related to the child or children
Typically if the Family Court grants an order for a child to not travel overseas, their name goes on an Airport Watch List. This list prevents them from boarding any international flight or ship leaving from an international airport or port.
If a child is taken before any such litigation can be completed or commenced, The Hague Convention regarding child abduction is considered. All western nations are signatories to this convention and legal avenues can be taken to ensure the return of your children. However a large number of sovereign states aren't signatories to this convention, including China and most of Africa.
It's worth noting that a professional legal team needs to be convened in order to deal with these complex issues. If this is the case, talk to an experienced family lawyer, who will help establish plan to ensure that your rights as a parent are realised.