Child abduction: A man was recently sentenced for his role in aiding in crimes involving aspects of family law in which he allegedly assisted a child abduction-facilitating group. The 84-year-old Townsville man was convicted and released on a $2,000, 18-month good behaviour bond after receiving a recognizance release order. He had pleaded guilty to one count of dealing in the proceedings of crime to the value of $1,000 or more, contrary to section 400.6 of the Criminal Code 1995.
Child abduction remains a serious issue in Australia, with the courts issuing more than 400 recovery orders annually, some involving international abductions and others involving domestic ones.
What is a recovery order?
If a parent takes a child somewhere in contravention of court parenting orders, that parent can be issue a recovery order, sometimes through the Australian Federal Police, from the Family Courts or the Federal Circuit Courts.
A recovery order authorises appropriate authorities like police officers to find, recover and deliver a child to a person with a parenting order regarding that child. It may also prohibit others from taking possession of the child. You can apply for a recovery order if you are a person who the child lives with, spends time with or communicates with as set out in a parenting order, someone who has parental responsibility in a parenting order, a grandparent of the child or a person who is concerned with the care, welfare and development of a child (say, if they live with you but you don’t have a parenting order). The application for a recovery order must be filed with the Family Court of Australia or Federal Circuit Court of Australia, with supporting paperwork.
New offences around child abductions
Changes were made to the Family Law Act 1975 in recent years which created new offences in regard to child abduction. Sections 65YA and 65YZ of the Act relate to sending a child overseas or keeping a child overseas when there are no court orders permitting travel, or there is no consent from the other parent, or when there are no pending parenting proceedings in the courts.
Strong penalties apply, including up to three years jail time.
Aiding someone with a family law abduction
The new offences also extend to others who have acted on behalf of the removing/retaining parent—in effect making them an accessory to the child’s abduction.
Illegally publishing family law matter details
The second aspect of the criminal matter that is worth mentioning is the related sentencing of another member of the child abduction group earlier this year, when a man was jailed for offences including maintaining a website and social media pages “where he and other alleged offenders published material relating to proceedings before the Family Court of Australia, as well as other harassing and offensive material”. He had been paid by another two parties to do so.
Publishing any information about proceedings is restricted under section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975. Family law matters, especially matters that are in court, should be safely kept off of social media.
For family law advice, please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.
Please note our blogs are not legal advice. For information on how to obtain the correct legal advice, please contact Alliance Family Law.