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Why the Family Law Watchlist

Why the Family Law Watchlist?

Monday 27th of May 2019
By: Emily O'Brien, Solicitor, Coote Family Lawyers

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

My spouse is from another country and I'm afraid s/he will take our child overseas without my permission.  How do I make sure my child stays in Australia?

In circumstances where a parent or interested person is concerned that a child is likely to be removed from the Commonwealth of Australia without their consent, they can apply to the Family Court for an Order directing the child’s name to be included on the Family Law Watchlist.  Generally, such Applications are made in circumstances of urgency and the Court will want to be satisfied as to what the urgency relates to, why an Order of this nature is necessary and how long it should remain in full force and effect.

If there is insufficient time to obtain a Court Order, then a Family Law Watchlist Request Form can be completed and submitted directly to the Australian Federal Police provided an Initiating Application seeking a Watch List Order has been filed with the Court. 

The Australian Federal Police maintain the Family Law Watchlist relating to family law matters, which restrains the removal of a child from the Commonwealth of Australia at all departure points, including by land, sea and air.

Importantly, once the child’s name has been placed on the Family Law Watchlist, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) restrains all parties from taking the child out of Australia. 

Once family law matters are resolved and/or there are Orders or agreement in place relating to a child (and for example international travel), then it may be appropriate to remove the child from the Watchlist.  If there are Orders made by the Court directing the Australian Federal Police to include the child on the Watchlist then a subsequent Order removing the child may be required.  Alternatively, the Order may be time-limited and the Australia Federal Police will simply remove the child once that time has expired. 

If you or someone you know has any concern in relation to a child being taken overseas without permission, we suggest you contact our team of family law specialists for advice as soon as possible. 

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