What to Do When You Can’t Locate Your Children

What if one day you come home only to find your spouse has taken
away your child(ren) and disappeared into thin air? Alternatively,
what if your ex-spouse has relocated with your child(ren) without
giving any notice to you while your ex-spouse and you are in the
middle of family law proceedings?
Unfortunately, such scenarios are not uncommon in reality. If you are
unsure about your child’s whereabouts, you may apply to the Court so
that information can be obtained regarding the location of your
child(ren) from a natural person or private company (Location Orders)
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or from a government department (Commonwealth Information
Effect of Location Order or Commonwealth Information Order
Location Orders are made under section 67M of the Family Law Act
1975 (Cth), with Commonwealth Information Orders being a type
of Location Order (see section 67N of the Family Law Act).
When a Location Order is made, it requires a natural person or private
company to provide the Court with information about the child’s
When a Commonwealth Information Order is made, it requires a
government department, such as Centrelink and Medicare, to provide
the Court with information about the child’s location.
Application Requirements
You will need to file an application with the Court to hold a hearing
about the Location Order without any notice to nor the presence of
the missing parent.
The following are the key procedural requirements:
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1. A parent must have already filed an Initiating Application for
Parenting Orders with the Court, there must be court
proceedings on foot or there must be existing Parenting Orders.
If neither of these is applicable, then it is essential that you apply
for Parenting Orders and Location Orders at the same time.
2. Additionally, you must seek leave from the Court to proceed
with your application for a location order on an ex parte basis.
3. The application for a Location Order must be filed with an
affidavit in support (see below for what needs to be contained
in this affidavit).
4. You must serve a copy of your application on the person or
department you are seeking information from before the Court
5. You must file with the Court an Affidavit of Service evidencing
the person or department you are seeking information from is
on notice of your application.
Affidavit in Support
You must file an affidavit to support your application, which should
include details of the following points:
The circumstances in which the child’s location become unknown
to you;
The measures taken already to find the missing parent and child;
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Why the persons or the organisation named in the draft location
order are likely to have or come into possession of information on
the child’s whereabouts.
Best interests of the child, which will be treated as the paramount
consideration. Specifically, the court will have regards to various
relevant factors, including but not limited to: the benefit to
the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of
the child’s parents; the need to protect the child from physical or
psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse,
neglect or family violence; any views expressed by the child; and
the nature of the relationship of the child with.
Location Information
Once granted, a Location Order will compel the person or the
government department to provide the requested information about
the child’s location to the registry manager of the Court. The registry
manager has numerous powers with respect to disclosing the
information. As such, you may then seek an order that the registry
manager of the Court disclose the information pertaining to the
whereabouts of the child to you.
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Recovery Order
If necessary, you may also need to seek a Recovery Order. A Recovery
Order requires the Australian Federal Police to recover and return the
child to you.
RN LEGAL has assisted many clients in resolving their parenting
dispute. RN LEGAL has the experience, expertise, and resources to
help you through your parenting dispute.
Contact us on (02) 9191 9293 or mail@rnlegal.org if you require
advice in relation to your parenting dispute