DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change
without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed to practice in the relevant
Australia and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since July 1, 1988.
For information concerning travel to Australia, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for Australia.
The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention. In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children’s Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including Australia. Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
The Australian Central Authority (ACA) for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department, International Family Law Section. The Attorney General’s Department coordinates the implementation of the Convention to include forwarding applications to the relevant State Central Authority in Australia. Legal proceedings in Australia for the return of children are filed and conducted by the State and Territory Central Authorities operating in each of the six states and two territories.
The Australian Central Authority can be reached at:
International Family Law Section
3-5 National Circuit
Barton ACT 2600
Telephone number: 001-61-2-6141- 6666
To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in Australia, a parent must submit a Hague application to the ACA through the Central Authority in his or her country of residence. The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the ACA, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes.
There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or Australian central authorities. Additional costs may include the cost of hiring video conferencing facilities to present evidence in an Australian court, or costs associated with traveling to Australia to attend a court hearing or for the return of the child, if so ordered.
A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, Australia. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in Australia. The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country. The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.
A parent is not required to retain a lawyer in Australia in order to invoke the Hague Abduction Convention. When the ACA receives a request for the return of, or access to, a child from an overseas Central Authority, it will determine if the request meets the terms of the Convention. If the ACA is of the opinion that the request is compliant, it will refer the application to the Central Authority of the relevant State or Territory to initiate proceedings in the Family Court of Australia for a return or access order under the Convention. It is important to note that a Central Authority does not legally represent the parent in Convention proceedings and does not take instructions relating to the conduct of the case directly from the parent. The Central Authority is the Plaintiff in Convention proceedings, and the abducting parent is the Respondent.
If a parent wishes to conduct his or her own case, he or she can retain a lawyer privately in Australia. In this situation, the Central Authority will not provide representation and the proceedings will be conducted at the expense of the left-behind parent.
The U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia posts list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.
This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers..
The Australian Central Authority strongly promotes mediation in abduction cases and will coordinate mediation when appropriate, through non-government organizations.
The U.S. Embassy in Australia can be contacted at:
The Embassy of Australia is located in Washington, D.C. at:
Embassy of Australia
1601 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: (202) 797-3000
Fax: (202) 797-3168
Website: Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C.