Recovery Orders & Missing Children
When is a Child Considered to be Missing?
Following a relationship breakdown, a situation may arise where one parent has taken a child away from the other parent, contrary to the existing parenting plan or Orders currently in place. Regardless of whether this occurs within Australia or overseas, if the remaining party is unable to locate or communicate with the child they will likely be considered ‘missing’. When a child is not returned to their parent at the agreed day and time, an Application can be made to the Court for a Recovery Order, seeking the return of the child.
Who Can Apply?
The following Applicants are permitted to apply for a recovery order:
- A person the child either lives with, spends time with or communicates with (pursuant to an existing parenting order);
- A person with parental responsibility; or
- Any other person who is concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child (for example grandparents, siblings, aunt/uncle etc.)
How the Court Recovers the Children
Even though the Court has the power to make the Order, it relies on those subject to the Order to actually recover the child, e.g. the police or other government agencies. The Court will need to be notified when the child has been recovered, as they have no direct involvement with the actual recovery process.
If the child is not successfully recovered following the Order, there are other steps that can be taken. A Location Order can be obtained from the Court, which will direct any suspected person with knowledge of the child’s whereabouts to come forward with that information.
A Commonwealth Information Order can also be sought, which results in a government department having to provide information about the child (e.g. Centrelink), or a Publication Order which results in the media being permitted to share information with the public regarding the child’s last known location (e.g. the family court website will display information publicly).
When Children are Removed from Australia
Where a child has been removed from the country, the legal and administrative bodies of the Australian government assist in the speedy recovery of the child. Thankfully this is a very rare occurrence.
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