How to locate and recover a child through the courts

Table of Contents

Australian Law acknowledges the presumption that it is in the best interests of a child that both parents equally share parental responsibility after a separation or divorce case. However, there are instances when one parent refuses to allow the other parent to be in contact with the child or worse, has taken the child somewhere without informing the other parent. This is when one must seek assistance from a divorce lawyer to ask the courts for a location order and/or a recovery order.

Location Orders and Recovery Orders

A location order requires persons to provide information as to where a child can be found and further authorizes the police to locate the child. This may be applied for by the innocent or aggrieved parent. If a parenting order is not yet in place or if only a parenting plan or verbal agreement was made, the law firm assisting may help secure a parenting order along with the location order.

A recovery order compels the return of a child to the town or city from which he or she was relocated from. The court may also make this order to direct an entity like the Australian Federal Police to recover and deliver the child.

How are these orders applied for?

A child recovery order can be sought by applying to the Federal Circuit Court. If the applicant does not have a parenting order yet, an application for a parenting order along with the application for a location and/or recovery order may be filed. In addition to the application, an affidavit which states the following must be submitted:

  • An account of the parties’ personal history and the relationship between the applicant, the child and the person who relocated the child;
  • Details about the relationship of the parties;
  • A list of previous litigation, court hearings or family law;
  • Circumstances before the disappearance or removal of the child;
  • Where the applicant believes the child may be located and steps that have been taken to recover the child;
  • An explanation of why it is in the best interest of the child that the child be returned to the applicant; and
  • What will happen if an order is not made.

Why is it important to secure a recovery order?

If talking to the other party does not work, securing a recovery order would be the best way to seek the return of the child. Aside from the immediate return of the child, the recovery order can also prohibit the person from removing the child again, without the applicant’s permission. If it occurs once more, the recovery order can authorize the arrest of the person.

What if the child cannot be found?

If the child cannot be located even with the assistance of the Australian Federal Police, a publication order may be sought as a last resort, when all other means have already been exhausted.

Seek the assistance of a family or divorce lawyer or a law firm so that you will be guided by taking the appropriate steps and be provided with all the necessary information to recover the child.


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