We all looked on in horror last year when 60 Minutes aired Sally Faulkner’s terrifying but true story of battle to bring her children home from Lebanon. This experience resulted in her, Tara Brown (leading reporter for 60 Minutes) and her team, being arrested and held in custody in Lebanon. Sally had previously given her Husband permission to take the children for a visit with their father to Lebanon. At the time Sally was in a new relationship and pregnant. When Sally realised her Husband was not returning the children she was too pregnant to fly. Further, Lebanon is not a signatory to The Hague Convention, meaning she couldn’t petition to have them brought home!
Don’t think this could ever happen to you? Think again.
Relationship breakdowns are traumatic and the stress often leads to people making irrational, sometimes spontaneous, decisions based on nothing more than emotion. It is precisely in situations like this where there are countless examples of a parent leaving the country with their children without the knowledge, let alone consent, of the other parent. The only ‘crime’ of the remaining parent was that they weren’t in possession of the children’s passports
If you don’t have possession of your kids passports the other parent can travel overseas without you knowing until it is too late. Where there are no parenting orders allocating parental responsibility you will experience great difficulty in getting your kids back in a timely manner, not to mention in situations where the destination country is a non-signatory to the Hague Convention. Whilst there are sometimes remedies for international parental child abduction it could be so easily prevented.
It may just be that your ex-partner is withholding the passport and refuses to allow you to take the kids on a holiday. This is a frequent occurrence in family law disputes. On further request for the passport you may get a response such as “I don’t know where it is”! Or “oh dear, Jane won’t be going on holidays”. We’ve even seen situations where the ex-partner has used it as a bargaining tool. Without legal help, the result could be you are bullied into an extremely undesirable position.
Of course there are legal processes in dealing with such behaviour, for example you can have your children placed on the airport watch list, meaning they cannot leave the country
If you find yourself in a situation like this it is critical you act quickly. Of course, we can talk you through your options and help map out a course of action. If this is you let’s have 15 minutes on the phone together, no cost or obligation to you, to map out the next step. Call us on 1300 449 500.