International Child Abduction
Unfortunately it is sometimes the case that one parent takes the child/ren out of Australia without the consent of the other parent. Australia has ratified the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. This means that if the overseas country where the child has been taken has also ratified the Convention, then it is possible to obtain an Order for the return of the child/ren from the Australian Courts, and that this Order will be enforced by the authorities in that overseas jurisdiction.
We can help you to make these applications and provide advice in relation to them.
If you are concerned that the other parent intends to take a child overseas and you do not consent, then it is possible to make an application to the Court for an Order preventing the parent from removing the child and also putting the child on the Airport Watch List (this means that if there is an attempt to take the child out of Australia, they will be stopped at the airport). The Court has wide-ranging powers in these cases and can even Order plane land after take-off to retrieve a child.
If either of these is situations is relevant to you we recommend that you make an appointment to speak to one of our lawyers as soon as possible, as there is significant risk in not taking action or not understanding your rights and obligations.
International Child Support and Spousal Maintenance Matters
See link in section on Child Support
If an Order for spousal maintenance has been made in an overseas jurisdiction, it is possible for that Order to be enforced by the Child Support Agency in Australia, depending on the circumstances of the case.
It is also possible, in certain circumstances to apply to the Family Courts to have the overseas order changed.
If either of these situations are relevant to you, you should contact our lawyers.
Overseas Assets in Australian Family Law proceedings
The power to adjust property interests under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) operates against the parties personally and not directly against the property itself.
When the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (“the Courts”) determine the alteration of property interests, the first step is identify and value the assets, liabilities, superannuation entitlements and financial resources of the parties.
There is no impediment for the Courts to take into account foreign property or make orders that the parties transfer or sell that property.
In light of this, parties to a family law proceeding must disclose any overseas assets or financial resources they may have.
If you or your former partner/spouse own overseas assets or have financial resources overseas, the following issues should be considered as minimum:
1. Valuation of overseas assets
It may be necessary to obtain a valuation of an overseas asset from an independent expert valuer if the parties to a family law proceeding cannot agree on its value.
Before entering into a property settlement and finalising property orders, it is important that parties to a family law proceeding obtain advice in relation to any possible taxation implications or consequences (both in Australia and/or overseas) arising from the disposal or retention of overseas assets or financial resources.
3. Implementation and enforceability of property orders
Another difficulty when dealing with overseas assets or financial resources is ensuring that the orders can be enforced and implemented in overseas jurisdictions. This is usually able to be overcome if the party who is ordered to transfer or sell the foreign property or who may be receiving something contemporaneously with the transfer of sale is in Australia. However, it may be the case that parties to a family law proceeding are required to obtain further orders from the Court in the relevant overseas jurisdiction in order to give effect to the Orders made by the Australian Courts.
4. Clearly inappropriate forum?
Before exercising their jurisdiction, the Courts must first consider whether the convenience of the parties and justice would be better achieved by resolving the dispute in another forum.
There may be a dispute as to whether or not Australia is a ‘clearly inappropriate forum’ and whether proceedings in Australia should be stayed in favour of another jurisdiction if all or most of the parties’ property is held outside of Australia.
In those circumstances, you should obtain legal advice if you or your former partner/spouse own assets or have financial resources overseas and to understand how to protect yourself and your assets from further proceedings overseas once family law orders are made by the Australian Courts.
Financial agreements and binding child support agreements for international couples
Often when parties enter into a Financial Agreement, there are international issues to consider when the parties reside in a an overseas jurisdiction at the time of separation. There may also be issues which arise when one (or both parties) are residing in an overseas jurisdiction at the time of signing the Agreement. These are important things to think about at the time of entering into these Agreements, and they are matters which we are able to provide you with advice on.
In relation to Binding Child Support Agreements, issues can also arise when one (or both) of the parties and/or are living in an overseas jurisdiction. We can advise you in relation to these issues and how best to protect yourself.
International family law and abduction/relocation
There are a number of issues that arise in family law disputes under the umbrella of ‘international’ issues.
You can call our NSW, Victoria or ACT offices using the following numbers.
NSW: 0061 2 9045 2600
Victoria: 0061 3 8376 7000
ACT: 0061 2 6115 9000