International Recovery Orders
A friend of mine recently told me about an article he read on the growing number of separated mothers leaving New Zealand and relocating to Australia with their children. As a single father he was concerned about this trend and specifically, that it was happening without the father’s consent or a Court order. The article stated that 70% of New Zealand children involved in international custody disputes last year were found to have been taken to Australia. (http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9001730/Kiwi-tug-of-love-children-on-the-rise)
I reminded him of the ‘Italian sisters’ case’ that was all over the media last year and the consequences the mother faced as a result of taking the girls to live in Australia without the father’s permission. The girls were ultimately returned to their father as a result of the “Hague Convention”.
While it is incredibly frustrating, and of course heartbreaking for fathers, it is lucky in a sense that the children have been taken to a “Hague Convention” country, because of the rights they are entitled to under this international law.
So what is the Hague Convention and how does it protect you?
The Hague Convention seeks to protect children from being wrongfully removed to, or retained in another country, and ensures there are procedures for their prompt return.
So, for these Kiwi fathers, if their child has been taken to a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention (Civil Aspects of Child Abduction) such as Australia, then proceedings can be instituted under that international treaty for the return of their child to New Zealand and the child's custody to be then dealt with there.
It is important to note that this is a highly complex area of the law. So whether you are the parent whose children have been taken away or the parent who is leaving the country with the children, it is vital that you seek professional legal advice to ensure that the best case is put forward.
The Family Law Team at Coleman Greig has considerable experience in this area and working within the parameters of the Hague Convention. If you would like to discuss your rights and obligations with respect to children, contact a member of our team now on (02) 9635 6422.