Family Law: 23 March 2019
The media has recently been providing consistent coverage of Tara Brown and the 60 Minutes crew who are held in custody in Beirut for attempting to assist Ms Faulkner to recover her children off the streets of Beirut.
Whilst it can be difficult for most people, when their children have been removed or are unlawfully retained in a non-Hague Convention country, the solution is not to attempt a recovery of the children like the mother and the 60 minutes crew attempted. A recovery of that nature is fraught with danger and difficulties.
First and foremost, there is a danger to the parent attempting to recover the children (and in this case the 60 Minutes crew). There is also a danger to the children being recovered. This is particularly exacerbated if there is acrimony between the parents and one of the parents or their associates is armed.
A recovery, conducted in the fashion as attempted in this case, can be very traumatic for the children. Put simply, being grabbed from one country, without the opportunity to speak to or say good bye to the other parent is a traumatic process. This is clearly not in the best interests of the children and can go against the recovering parent if the other parent brings a formal 'relocation application' in the Family Court of Australia.
There is also the danger that the parent attempting to recover the children can, like in this case, be arrested and detained. When the recovering parent is detained, invariably the children get returned back to the other parent. Once again, this achieves nothing and is unnecessarily traumatic for the children.
The safest and most effective way of recovering children when they have been removed or are unlawfully retained in a non-Hague Convention country, is to respect the legal process of that country and to bring the relevant recovery action in that country. Whilst this may be a long process it ensures that everyone is safe and can provide the best chance of success.