SALLY FAULKNER AND THE 60 MINUTES FILM CREW – WHEN CHILDREN ARE REMOVED FROM AUSTRALIA WITHOUT CONSENT

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    The story of Sally Faulkner and the 60 minutes film crew – when children are removed from Australia without consent of 1 parent.

    What can this story of Sally Faulkner and the 60 minutes film crew kidnapping charges in Lebanon teach you about Family Law?

    In the news this month there was a tragic tale. The story was of an Australian woman Sally Faulkner who travelled to Lebanon with a film crew from 60 minutes in a desperate attempt to see her children and return with them to Australia to live. She hadn’t seen her children for 10 months. The father of the children, a Lebanese man, had taken the children to Lebanon ostensibly on a holiday and had not returned. You can imagine the pain she must have been in.

    She staged a daring, seemingly violent attempt at “kidnapping” the children back in broad daylight off the streets of Beirut. This was also apparently funded by the 60 minutes program. She and the film crew were subsequently arrested, jailed, and are facing serious criminal charges.

    So what does this mean from a legal perspective? Well there’s a convention called the Hague Convention which provides a lawful means of returning abducted children from overseas countries and returning them to their “habitual place of residence”. A parent can go to Court in Australia and get an Order that the children are returned from the overseas country. The Court Order can then be enforced overseas by registration in a foreign Court where the children are. If the foreign country is a signatory to the Convention then the Court in that country will enforce the Australian Order.

    Unfortunately in Ms Faulkner’s case, Lebanon is not a signatory to the Convention. So despite reports that she seemingly had an Order from the Family Court of Australia, it’s questionable whether that Order would have been recognised or enforced by a Lebanese Court.

    What can you do if the other parent is going to take children overseas without your consent?

    1. Act quickly, go see a lawyer and get advice as a matter of urgency;
    2. If there’s a parenting order in force, the other parent is committing a criminal offence with a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment for taking the children overseas without your consent;
    3. You should submit a “Child Alert Request Form” to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which prevents the other parent from applying for a passport for the children without your consent;
    4. A lawyer can help you get an Order which requires the other parent to deliver the children’s passports to you;
    5. A lawyer can help you get a “Watch Order” which is a Court Order which means the Australian Federal Police will prevent the children from leaving from any seaport or airport in Australia and going overseas.

    It’s important to know your rights and the help available if you ever find yourself in this situation.

    Northside Lawyers can help with advice and with obtaining the Family Court of Australia Order.

    Links:Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Child Alert Request Form, and information

    SBS news story.

    CAUTION: This article contains general information of public interest only and is not intended to be, nor should be relied upon as, legal advice specific to the reader’s personal circumstances. Should you have a legal matter, please seek professional advice before acting or relying on this content.

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