In cases when one parent has taken the child somewhere without the other parent’s knowledge of where, there are several safeguards that can help.
A location order requires a person who has knowledge of the child’s whereabouts to provide the information to the court. A location order application can be submitted by a person who has responsibility for the child under a parenting order, but if there is no parenting order in place, anyone concerned with the well-being of the child can apply. The court must be convinced that the person specified in the order has information about the where the child is, and once the order is made, the person must provide the information as soon as possible, despite any other law. The information is provided to the court, but not to the applicant, to prevent them from taking matters into their own hands.
Commonwealth information orders are usually directed toward Centrelink or the Child Support Agency. If their records indicate where the child may be, they must give the information to the Registrar of the court, and there are firm restrictions on whom the Registrar may share the information with.
The court will use a recovery order to demand the return of the child to wherever it is in his or her best interest to be. The order can include allowing for whatever force is required to search any premises to find the child and permitting the arrest without a warrant of a person who takes the child again. If someone prevents the order from being carried out, the court may fine or imprison them. If the court thinks the child might be taken out of Australia, it may order the turning in of the passport of the child and any other person involved.
A watch list order may take effect when there is a threat that the child might be taken outside of Australia without permission from the other parent or a court order. When a child’s name is on the watch list, the Australian Federal Police will be informed if anyone tries to take the child out of Australia by air or by sea, and they will prevent the removal of the child. When a parenting order is in place, the child cannot be taken out of Australia without written permission from the other parent or a court order.
A watch list request can be made while parenting proceedings are pending, as well. The child’s name can stay on the list until they are 18. If there are no proceedings pending, but there is a threat of the child being removed from Australia, a person can ask the Australian Federal Police to put a child’s name on the watch list temporarily until they are able to obtain a court order.