Child abduction, otherwise known as child snatching has been a growing issue in Australia.
Under the Family Law, a parent may be charged with parental child abduction if one unlawfully takes the child from its habitual residence or from the people who are in charge of its custody. Parental child abduction usually happens in post-divorce proceedings wherein a child is involved or during a supervised visitation of a child to the other parent.
Considering the high hopes of parents, it is not impossible for them to kidnap their own children with the desire to spend longer time with the kids. However, regardless of the good reasons of the parents in taking their own child and putting the law on their own hands, the court considers the issue as inexcusable.
In an instant where a mother who is under a supervised visitation suddenly takes the child away without the intent of returning the child, the court may warrant an arrest for the mother charging her with parental child abduction. About the right of the father to have equal access to his child, the court also considers the principle of the best interest of the child. Since child kidnapping instils horrible and very traumatic experience for the child, the court renders child kidnapping as a criminal offence which carries with it a penalty that may last up to 12 years of imprisonment.
Under the Family Law Act, a person who snatches the child on behalf or at the request of the mother may also be charged with three-year imprisonment. The same penalty will also apply if the parental child abduction takes place while the trial for child custody or separation is still ongoing.
When the child is kidnapped internationally, the law on Hague Convention will apply so long as the offshore country is a signatory to it. In an instant where the father has won the child’s residence, and the mother took the child abroad without the intent of returning, the Hague Convention lays down the lawful measure that ensures the safe return of the child to its habitual home. The mother will also face the lawful consequence of abducting her own child.
Parental abduction is just one of the superb examples when they win or lose system of the family law is pushed to its limits. Notwithstanding the emotional and financial cost that both parents have to go through in family law proceedings, kidnapping the child should not be given any consideration. It is also worth noting that under the family law, the biological parents of the child continue to observe certain obligations towards the child despite being separated.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.