A parent taking a child without permission can often be a scary and emotional experience for the child’s other parent or guardian.
If a parent taking the child without permission refuses to return the child, you will have multiple legal and informal options available to you. The goal of this article is to provide an easy-to-understand overview of these legal and non-legal options available to you when another parent has taken your child without permission.
Non-Legal Options for When a Parent Has Taken a Child Without Permission
Although, understandably, such a situation is highly alarming, and your immediate thought may be to call the police or pursue the matter legally. To avoid any unnecessary conflict, time-wasted and expense, you should first consider the non-legal options available to you.
Assuming the other parent does not have a domestic violence order in place, preventing contact with you or your child and is likely, not dangerous. Your first course of action should always be to try and civilly discuss the matter with them.
In some situations, even though the parent who took the child without permission may not be a danger to you or the child, tensions may be high amongst you, which does not facilitate any productive discussion. In this instance, your second option would be to have a mutual friend or relative reach out to them on your behalf to attempt to resolve the matter.
If this does not work, your third option would be to have a family lawyer reach out on your behalf on an informal basis to them before pursuing any legal opportunities. This can be very effective, as the family lawyer can inform them of all the legal consequences of their actions if they choose not to return to the child.
What If I Don’t Know Where My Child Is?
If the parent taking the child without your permission has moved your child elsewhere with them, and you do not know where they are, you should make enquiries with friends and relatives to locate the other parent and your child. However, this is not always possible to do safely, or there may be no information on the matter. In such a situation, you should apply to the court for a location order. A location order will provide for an organisation or person to provide directly to the court information about the child’s whereabouts.
Location Order Application
You will need to fill out a location order application that includes details such as the last time you saw the child/children and details regarding the inquiries you have made to find the location of the other parent and the child.
Suppose you believe you need to apply to a location order. In that case, you should not delay the process as any delay may cause the parent to take the child without permission to change their location and become much harder to track. Please get in touch with our firm as soon as possible to understand the next steps you should take.
Family Dispute Resolution
Usually, when another parent has taken your child without permission, you will need to attempt to reach an agreement with the other parent before commencing court proceedings.
A Family dispute resolution mediation session with a registered practitioner or mediator will need to be undertaken before the court will consider hearing an application for parenting orders.
What if my matter is urgent?
You may not be required to attend mediation before commencing court proceedings in the following situations:
- When applying for consent orders
- Where the matter is urgent
- When responding to an application
- Where there is family violence or child abuse
- If you believe your children are at risk
- Where the other parent has breached any court orders made within 12 months
- A party cannot effectively participate – e.g. when they are too far or have an incapacity of some nature.
You should seek legal advice immediately if you believe any of these situations apply to you.
Child Recovery Orders
The family court makes a child recovery order to compel a person to return a child and is typically utilised in instances where a parent is taking a child without permission.
Child recovery orders also include orders and authorities for state and federal departments to recover and return the child and provide them with power to arrest without warrant any person (including the parent of the child) who takes or removes the child.
The court will make a recovery order if it is in the best interests of the child. These ‘best interests’ encapsulate considerations such as:
- The child having a meaningful relationship with both parents
- Protecting the child from being exposed to any violence, harm, abuse and neglect
- Saving the child from any psychological harm
How Do I Apply For a Recovery Order Or Location Order?
This can be done through filing an initiating application. In this application, you will need to provide details about what you are asking the court for. These orders include specific orders that permit the police to remove the children from the other parent’s custody and return them into your possession.
Copies of the forms are found on the Family Law Court website. It is strongly recommended that you seek the assistance of a family lawyer with these matters.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice
It is important to note when the situation of a parent taking your child without permission occurs to remain calm and consider the legal and non-legal options available to you. If you have exhausted your non-legal options, you should seek legal guidance as soon as possible to consider your next steps.
Here at JB Solicitors, we’ll make the process as pain-free as possible. We have fixed-fee pricing for family law, giving you a clear sense of the costs from the start, and we will be sure to help you out every step of the way. With years of experience under our belt, we pride ourselves on making each client’s family law experience as positive as possible.
Contact JB Solicitors today to speak with one of our friendly and experienced family lawyers.
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