Courts use family law location orders to locate an abducted or illegally relocated child and return them to the person seeking the child. But what are the reasons for illegal abduction or unlawful relocation? When couples divorce, they make parenting arrangements that will best fit the child’s best interests.
However, not all parents are happy with such parenting arrangements even if they were the final orders of the court. Hence, some parents tend to think that it’s a good idea to keep their child away from the other parent. This article will state relevant laws and regulations about location and information orders.
Family Law Location Orders: Parental Alienation and Abduction
Some people might have heard about parental alienation when talking about divorce and separation matters. Parental alienation is when a parent intentionally informs the child about negative things about the other parent. The goal of parental alienation is to manipulate a child into hating and hiding away from the other parent.
Parental abduction, on the other hand, is taking and concealing a child without the other parent’s consent or permission. In most cases, parental abduction can only happen within the country where both separated parents live. However, some parents may illegally abduct children overseas (international parental abduction).
Section 67J: Location Order and Information Order
Section 67J of the Family Law Act 1975 defines a location order and a commonwealth information order. The seeking person must provide any relevant information he/she knows to the Registry manager about the child’s location. The court may also require the secretary of a department or appropriate authority to give the Registry Manager information of a child’s location.
Some of this information is most likely stored in their records or instrumentality. An instrumentality is a government agency vested with special functions for public purposes. A commonwealth information order is an example of location order. A location order requires a person or government agency to provide information about a child’s location to the court.
Section 67K: Applying For A Family Law Location Order
It’s important to talk about the eligibility requirements of people who want to file for family law location orders. According to Section 67K, the eligible people who may apply for a location order are the following:
- People with whom the child is to live, spend time with, or communicate under a parenting order
- A person with parental responsibility under a parenting order
- The child’s grandparents
- Any other person concerned with the care, welfare or development of the child
- A person who is appointed as the central authority for the Commonwealth, state, or territory for the purposes of the Child Protection Convention and Child Abduction Convention.
Section 67L: The Importance of the Child’s Best Interests
Indeed, child abduction is an illegal and punishable Act since courts give weight to the child’s best interests when talking about family law location orders. According to Section 60CC of the Family Law Act, children have the right to have a meaningful relationship with their parents. This also includes other significant people in their life such as their grandparents, relatives, and even close friends.
Secondly, children should have the right to have protection from family violence, abuse or neglect. All of these are primary considerations of the child’s best interests and courts will ensure that they are upheld. Child abduction is actually not in the child’s best interests. Why? Courts believe that the child still deserves to see each of their parents regardless of their marital status.
Section 67M: Location Order Provisions
A court having jurisdiction under family law location orders may make a location order if they have available information about the child’s location. A location order stays in force for 12 months or more if the court thinks it is necessary. While a location order is in force, the seeking person must provide information as soon as practicable and abide by the order.
Section 67N: Provisions About Commonwealth Information Orders
A court having jurisdiction under family law location orders may make a commonwealth information order. This is applicable if a department or a Commonwealth instrumentality has information about a child’s location. A court will not make a commonwealth information order unless:
- A copy of the application for the order has been served to the secretary of a department, a concerned appropriate authority, or a commonwealth instrumentality.
- A copy of the application has expired within 7 days after its service to a department or a commonwealth instrumentality. The court may also consider that there are special instances to make the order before the 7-day expiration date.
If a Commonwealth information order relates to more than one department or Commonwealth instrumentality, the court will not make an information order. However, the court will consider making a Commonwealth information order in relation to more than one of them under exceptional circumstances. A Commonwealth information order only applies to records of a particular kind if the court considers that:
- The information that the order is requesting is likely contained in records of that kind
- Applying the order to a department or Commonwealth instrumentality’s record will result in them having an unreasonable burden on their resources.
Similar to a location order, a Commonwealth information order stays in force for 12 months. While a Commonwealth information order is in force, the seeking person must provide information as soon as practicable and abide by the order. A commonwealth information order also won’t require departments or Commonwealth instrumentalities to search for the information needed every 3 months unless the court requires it.
Family Law Location Orders: Officials Informing Other People Concerned
Can officials of a department or a Commonwealth instrumentality provide another person with information that the information order seeks? Yes. However, the officials must ensure that the newly informed person is aware of actual or threatened violence to:
- The concerned child;
- A parent of the child; or
- Another person with whom the child lives.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
Child abduction or illegal relocation can be stressful for divorced parents, especially if they’re the ones looking for their child. JB Solicitors’ family lawyers are here to aid parents who have trouble seeking help in locating their child.
Our knowledge of the law can aid in a swift and effective process of relocating and recovering an abducted or illegally relocated child. We offer fixed fees for some of our family law services.
Contact us today for more information about family law location orders.