Abduction and Withholding of Children

If you believe that you or a child is in immediate danger, call 000.

Unfortunately, some parents may take it upon themselves to remove a child from another parent’s care, or fail to return a child, without the consent of the other parent.

If someone has removed a child from your care without consent, or failed to return a child when they should, then you may want to contact the Western Australian Police in order to locate the child and the parent who has removed them. In doing so, you may also need to make an urgent application in the Family Court of Western Australia for a Recovery Order.

To do so, you will need to file a Form 1 Application for Final Orders in the Family Court. For more information, see our Commencing an Application tab above.

Your Interim Orders will need to include an Order for the Western Australian Police to recover the child from the individual you believe to be withholding the child, or any other person acting on their behalf. You may also wish to seek an Order that the Australia Federal Police place the child on the “restricted or no flight list”, so that they cannot be removed from the State of Western Australia.

For assistance in drafting and filing your application, you should contact the duty lawyer at the Family Court of Western Australia, or Legal Aid, or see a private lawyer.

For more information:

  • Download a copy of the Family Court of Western Australia’s “Recovery Order Kit” here.
  • Contact Legal Aid, and access their Recovery Order information page here.

If a child is removed or withheld because you are being accused of being the perpetrator of family violence, you may wish to consider seeking legal advice, or contacting Legal Aid. If these allegations are true, you may wish to consider speaking with a domestic violence helpline or Relationships Australia. You can find more details at our Domestic Violence Support Services tab above.

In circumstances where neither party or a child is at risk, you may wish to consider inviting your former-partner to Family Dispute Resolution mediation. In mediation, you can discuss any issues that either party may have with the other having care of the child and potentially come to an agreement about the ongoing care for your child or children. You can find more information in our Relationships tab above.

If Family Dispute Resolution mediation is not effective and you still are not able to secure care of your children, you may wish to consider seeking an Order for the care of your children in the Family Court of Western Australia. You will need to commence an application in the Court, seeking immediate care of your children as well as a final, ongoing arrangement for care. For more information about commencing an application, see our Commencing an Application tab above.

If your child is taken from your care and relocated overseas without your consent, you will need to contact the Western Australian Police as soon as practicable. You can contact them in an emergency on 000, 131 444 in a non-emergency or visit your local Police station. You may also wish to seek legal advice with respect to legal action that can be taken in Western Australia, however if your child has been relocated to certain countries not covered by reciprocal child protection laws, you may also have to consider international support services.

Before commencing an application, you may wish to consider seeking legal advice, speaking with the duty lawyer at the Family Court or contacting Legal Aid.

 

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