Navigating the intricacies of international family law requires a combination of local expertise and a global perspective.
Our Melbourne-based team is well-versed in Australian family law and has extensive experience in handling international cases.
We maintain strong affiliations with law firms worldwide, ensuring you have the best advice and representation, regardless of jurisdiction.
- International Relocation: Moving abroad with your family? Our team can guide you through the complexities of international relocation and parenting orders.
- International Child Abduction: We’re experts in Hague Convention cases and can act swiftly to reunite you with your child. Trust us to navigate this sensitive issue with the urgency it deserves.
- International Divorce: We simplify the process by helping you service documents across borders. Let us handle the legal maze so you can focus on moving forward.
- International Child Support Agreement with Australia: We specialise in crafting international child support agreements that are enforceable in Australia. Your child’s well-being is our priority, no matter where you are.
- Overseas Property Settlement: Dividing assets across countries? Our team excels in overseas property settlements, ensuring you get a fair share without the international headache.
Why Choose Us As Your International Family Lawyers
Melbourne Family Lawyers have successfully represented clients in the Family Court of Australia at Melbourne in cases involving overseas relocation to/from countries including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Canada, Denmark, France, India, Japan and New Zealand.
One of our Senior Consultant Lawyers, Alison Loach, holds a New Zealand Lawyer Practicing Certificate, enabling her to advise regarding New Zealand Family Law and witness and certify New Zealand legal documentation, including Relationship Property Agreements.
Auditore Pty Ltd, trading as Melbourne Family Lawyers, has dealt with International Family Law cases since 1985. Melbourne Family Lawyers regularly act for Overseas Clients seeking Legal Advice and Court Representation in International Family Law Cases.
In addition to our legal expertise, we pride ourselves on our multicultural team.
We have lawyers fluent in Mandarin and Italian, ensuring seamless communication and a more personalised experience for our diverse client base.
Our Family Lawyers
Our lawyers have vast experience in Family Law. Whether your case involves a 50 million dollar business or a suburban house, a relocation with children to Preston or Paris, or a Divorce Application in Melbourne or Mumbai, rest assured that we know how to deal with it in the best possible way and obtain the best possible result for you.
What You Need to Know About International Family Law Australia
The Family Court of Australia has jurisdiction over all marriage-related cases in all states and territories of Australia, except Western Australia, which has its own family court.
The Family Court’s jurisdiction covers applications for divorce, property settlement, maintenance, child support, parenting, and living arrangements concerning children.
As long as there is some real connection to Australia, the Family Court will usually exercise its jurisdiction if called upon to do so.
International Relocation and Freedom of Movement
Adults generally have the right to freedom of movement. They can choose to live in whichever country they choose, subject to Visa and immigration requirements.
When parents separate and go their separate ways, it will be a problem if a parent wishes to take a child with them to another country without the formal consent of the other parent.
Even taking a child out of Australia temporarily for a holiday will be problematic if the other parent does not consent.
The Family Law Act makes it illegal for a parent to take a child outside Australia without a court order or the formal consent of the other parent.
If there is a dispute between parents about international travel and/or international relocation, it must be determined by the Family Court of Australia.
These court cases can be very complex and emotionally charged, and having the best legal representation is important to maximise your chances of success.
The basic principles to be applied by a judge in deciding child relocation cases are:
- The Court must always focus on what is in the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration;
- The best interests of the child are to be assessed while taking into account the legitimate interests of both of the parents;
- If a parent seeks to change arrangements affecting where the child lives or time spent with a parent, that parent must demonstrate that the proposed new arrangement is in the child’s best interests.
International Child Abduction
In the event of child abduction, you should obtain immediate specialist legal advice.
Usually, an international family lawyer would file an application in the Family Court seeking the child’s return.
The Court has vast powers to locate and return the child.
If a child has been taken and their whereabouts are unknown, the Court can order individuals and government departments to search their records and give the Court any details about the child’s location.
If you believe a child is under threat of being illegally taken out of Australia, take immediate action.
Once a child is out of the Australian jurisdiction, they become subject to the laws of other countries or subject to international conventions.
It depends on the country where the child is taken and whether the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction applies.
In certain circumstances, urgent injunctions to restrain departure from airports and other departure points may be obtained from the Family Court.
Also, be aware that the Family Court has an after-hours emergency phone service, which can be used if you become aware of an imminent illegal departure.
An injunction must be obtained before the Family Court reopening on the next business day.
It is possible to apply for a divorce in Australia, even if you and/or your spouse are not currently living in Australia.
You can apply for a divorce in Australia if either you or your spouse regard Australia as your home and intend to live in Australia indefinitely or are an Australian citizen by birth, descent, or by a grant of Australian citizenship, or ordinarily, live in Australia and have done so for 12 months immediately before filing for divorce.
International Child Support Agreement With Australia
An International Child Support Agreement with Australia refers to a legally binding arrangement between parents residing in different countries, one of which is Australia.
This agreement outlines each parent’s financial responsibilities for the child’s upbringing, including monthly payments, healthcare, and educational expenses.
Given the international scope, these agreements often involve navigating complex legal frameworks and treaties to ensure enforceability across borders.
The aim is to ensure that the child’s financial needs are met, regardless of where each parent lives.
International Property Settlement Jurisdiction
The Family Court of Australia has the power to make decisions about any property owned by the parties to the marriage (or de facto relationship), including any property held outside Australia.
The Family Law Act provides that parties may commence court proceedings for property settlement in the relevant Australian Family Law Court if either party to the marriage is, at the time of institution of proceedings:
- An Australian citizen; or
- Ordinarily resident in Australia; or
- Present in Australia
Once jurisdiction is established by the above, the next question to be determined is whether the Australian Court should exercise jurisdiction.
A court may decline to exercise jurisdiction in circumstances where an Australian Family Law Court is clearly an inappropriate forum for the subject matter of the proceedings.
For example, suppose both parties live outside Australia in Ireland, and the only property of the parties consists of real estate in Ireland. In that case, an Australian Court would decline to exercise jurisdiction as the Irish Court is the most appropriate to deal with the matter.
These are countries that have agreed to be bound by a convention dealing with international child abduction.
The main aim of the Hague Convention is to facilitate the prompt return of children wrongly removed to another convention country.
Australia is a convention country, but not all countries are.
If a child is taken from Australia to another convention country, there are procedures between Governments under the Hague Convention whereby the child may be returned to Australia.
The Family Law Watchlist is a system operated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to monitor children’s movements subject to family law orders.
If a court believes there’s a risk of a child being taken out of Australia without proper consent, it can request that the child’s name be placed on this watchlist.
This prevents the child from leaving the country without court approval.
A Departure Prohibition Order (DPO) is a legal order that prevents an individual from leaving Australia, usually due to unpaid debts like child support.
The order remains in effect until the debt is paid or arrangements are made to manage it.
Violating a DPO can result in severe penalties, including imprisonment.
A Recovery Order is a court order that authorizes or directs a person, usually the Australian Federal Police, to find and return a child to a person who has legal custody or parental responsibility.
This is often used in cases where a parent has taken away a child without consent from the other parent or against existing family law orders.
In Australia, an overseas divorce can generally be recognised if it is valid in the country where it was granted and if either party has a sufficient connection to that country.
The duration of an international divorce can take around 5 months, but can vary widely depending on the complexity of the case, the countries involved, and the responsiveness of both parties.
International cases may take longer due to additional legal requirements, such as serving documents overseas or dealing with foreign assets.