19-29 Martin Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Telephone: +(61) (2) 9373-9200
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (2) 4422-2201
Fax: +(61) (2) 9373-9184
U.S. Embassy Canberra
Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Telephone: +(61) (2) 6214-5600
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (2) 411-424-608
Fax: +(61) (2) 6214-5970
U.S. Consulate General Melbourne
553 St. Kilda Road
Melbourne, VIC 3004
Telephone: +(61) (3) 9526-5900
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (3) 9389-3601
Fax: +(61) (3) 9525-0769
U.S. Consulate General Perth
16 St. George's Terrace
Perth, WA 6000
Telephone: +(61) (8) 6144-5100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (8) 9476-0081
Fax: +(61) (8) 9325-5914
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 reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA). The report is located here.
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
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
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.
While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country. It is important for parents to understand that, although a left-behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney if planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent. Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:
The U.S. government cannot interfere with another country’s court or law enforcement system.
To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney in the country in which the child is located.
For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney.
Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.
For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.
Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information.
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 in the relevant jurisdiction.