What is the 1980 Hague Convention?

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (1980 Hague Convention) is a piece of international law that can be used by parents to seek the return of their children to Australia or access to their children living overseas.  

It applies to children who are under16 years of age and it applies when your child is located overseas in another country that is also a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention and the 1980 Hague Convention is in force between those two countries (also known as Hague Convention countries or signatory countries).  

The 1980 Hague Convention is not in-force between Australia and all countries that have signed the Convention; you can read more about this here. ISS Australia’s lawyers can help you to determine whether you can use the 1980 Hague Convention in your individual circumstances.  

Return applications

The 1980 Hague Convention is based on the idea that decisions regarding the child after separation are best made in that child’s place of habitual residence.  

The 1980 Hague Convention provides a legal avenue for decisions to be made about whether the child should be returned to their place of habitual residence, where decisions about parenting arrangements can then be made. The Convention does not make an order that the child should return into the care of the left behind parent and does not resolve future parenting arrangements in relation to the child.  

The process for seeking the return of a child using the 1980 Hague Convention includes preparing an Application Form and supporting affidavit, having your application assessed by a Central Authority in both Australia and the overseas country, and then court proceedings in the overseas country. More information about making return applications under the 1980 Hague Convention can be found on this factsheet.

Access applications

For parents whose children live overseas, the 1980 Hague Convention can also be used to seek contact with children. To make an access application, you must be able to show that you your rights of access are being breached by the other parents.  

The process for seeking access to your child using the 1980 Hague Convention includes preparing an Application Form and supporting affidavit and having your application assessed a Central Authority in Australia and in the overseas country. Not all access applications, however, will proceed to a court hearing. Lawyers at ISS Australia can discuss this further with you.  

For legal advice or further information about what is contained in this article, please contact our Legal Service in 1300 647 843 (dial 1), complete our interactive intake form or email legal@iss.org.au.