If you've had ongoing troubles regarding the custody of your child, you may be worried about your child's safety. Parental abduction (the kidnapping of a child by one of their parents) is a very real problem, especially in Australia. The country has the highest per capita rate of parental kidnapping in the world and 250 to 300 children are affected by this tragedy every year. More terrifying still is that, under ordinary circumstances, international parental abduction is not a crime in Australia so the government will not do anything to rescue your beloved little one should an incident occur. That's why preventing a situation like this is so important. Whether your child has a passport already or not, here are the precautions you need to take to protect them.  

A) "My child has a passport"

If your child already has a passport, the most important thing to do is keep it safe. Your little one can't leave the country without one, so making sure your ex-partner can't access it will drastically limit their means to abduct the child. 

If you are unable to keep the other parent from accessing your child's passport or you want to take extra precautions, you can prevent them from ever getting any further than the airport with a Family Law Watchlist order. The Family Law Watchlist is used by law enforcement to ensure that your child is not relocated without your consent. If your ex-partner attempts to leave Australia with your son or daughter, they will be stopped by the police. You will need to contact a family law solicitor to get your child placed on this list as a court order or family order (or evidence of application or appeal) will be needed to process your application.

B) "My child doesn't have a passport"

If your child doesn't already have a passport, it may be difficult to get your child's other parent to consent to the application, but it can be possible under certain circumstances. What's more concerning is that this applies to your ex too, so they may be able to find a loophole which allows them to obtain a child passport without your consent. Luckily, there is a way to stop this from happening. You will need to lodge a Child Alert Request. You may wish to consult a solicitor to ensure you fill in the form correctly as delays in processing give your child's mother or father more time to obtain documents without your permission. After having this form processed and accepted, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be notified if your son or daughter's other parent tries to apply for a passport in their name. This does not guarantee that the child will not be issued a passport if they are entitled to one, but it prevents anything from happening without authorities being notified. If you have court orders in place at the time of your application, the request will be valid until your child's 18th birthday. If not, you will need to reapply after 12 months.