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What is the Hague Convention?

As a metaphorical light at the end of the COVID tunnel becomes visible and Australia prepares to reopen its borders and allow citizens to travel abroad again, the anxieties surrounding international holidays within the circumstances of parenting orders may be resurfacing for many families. Whilst the prospect of being able to visit loved one overseas should be an exciting time bringing thoughts of joy and gratitude, it is entirely expected that you might be feeling some worry or angst surrounding the idea of either consenting to your children travelling overseas with their other parent, or persuading the other parent to allow the children to travel overseas with you. In either case, you should be aware that Australia is a party to an international agreement called the Hague Convention.  

The Hague Convention has been in effect since 1983 and is effectively a global treaty that provides for the recovery of children in circumstances where one parent has unilaterally removed them from their home country. The agreement allows international authoritative bodies (such as police or military) to assist in locating children who have been abducted and to facilitate their safe return.  

Complications in discharging recovery orders under the Hague Convention may arise where the children have been taken to a country that is not a party to the Convention. Australia currently has agreements in place with 83 foreign countries. There are some additional nations who have acceded to the Convention, but with whom Australia has not yet reached an agreement.  

If you fear that your children are at risk of being unlawfully removed from Australia, you may wish to contact the Australian Federal Police to have your child or children’s names put on a Family Law airport watchlist. This will prevent the possibility of your child leaving the country by alerting authorities if any attempt is made to use their passport.  

There are only a handful of circumstances where partnering countries may decline to allow the return of a child to Australia, and this is typically where a foreign court deems the child to be at risk of physical or psychological harm if they were to be returned. The foreign country may also deny a child’s return if the parent seeking the return had consented to the child’s removal from Australia or overseas retention, or where it is not in the interests of fundamental human rights and freedoms to return the child. The typical time limit for eligibility in making an application for recovery under the Hague Convention is one year, as after a child has been in a location for such an amount of time they will be considered to have settled into their new environment.


The experienced team at Love Family Lawyers take time to work with parents to ensure the risk of international removal of a child is unlikely, however, where dire situations arise, we’re prepared to assist in all aspects of recovery order applications. If you’re worried about international travel arrangements in the context of parenting plans or orders, contact our office today to arrange a consultation. Fees start at just $99.