Sometimes a foreign system can work in your favour.
International child abduction can lead to lengthy and very stressful battles to have your children returned to their home country. If your child is taken to a country that is part of the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, you can obtain an order for your child to be returned to Australia for the local courts to figure out what to do. If however, your child is taken to a country that is not part of the convention, it can be very difficult to get your child back.
When an Australian mother was told that Australia had no agreements with the United Arab Emirates to have her daughters returned, after their father took them to Dubai, she decided to go to Dubai herself and use the local Sharia Law to obtain a divorce and fight for her children’s return.
Under Sharia Law daughters automatically go with the father. It is believed that he can look after them better as a provider and a father figure. Instead of trying to fight this battle through Australian courts, the mother decided to fight for her children using Sharia Law. This meant relocating to Dubai, where the man is considered responsible for his family and has to pay the legal fees for both parties. The court case lasted for five years and the mother had to appear in court every two weeks to fight for custody of her children. In the end she obtained a divorce and won custody of her daughters, and could return to Australia with her children. The SBS Insight article reporting on this case did not explain the nature of a co-parenting agreement, but it was clear that the mother wanted her daughters to maintain a relationship with their father.
Once she returned to Australia, the mother decided not to go through the process of bringing a new application for a parenting Order under Australian Family Law. Each family’s circumstances will determine what the effect of such a decision would be. It is important to note, however, that having an Australian order, if you reside in Australia, is the best protection you have to enforce parenting arrangements.
Seek legal assistance
Family law differs significantly from country to country. When there is an international element to family law matters you need to determine which jurisdiction is most likely to give you the Order that you want. Seek legal advice as soon as possible and discuss all the possible jurisdictions with your lawyer. You might have to consult with lawyers in both jurisdictions.