Recovery Orders

When a parenting order is made, each person affected by the order must comply with it. If a parenting order has been breached or not complied with, or if your child's or grandchild's whereabouts is unknown, you can apply for a recovery order.

What is a recovery order?


A recovery order is an order of the Court that can require a child be returned to a:

  • parent of a child
  • person who has a parenting order that states the child lives with, spends time with or communicates with that person, or
  • person who has parental responsibility for the child.

Who can apply for a recovery order?

You can apply for a recovery order if you are:

  •  a person who the child lives with, spends time with or communicates with as stated in a parenting order
  • a person who has parental responsibility for the child in a parenting order
  • grandparent of the child,
  • a person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child. For example, you may be the person who the child lives with or spends time with but there is no parenting order that states this.

How do I apply for a recovery order?

There are different processes for applying for a recovery order depending on whether you have a current parenting order or a parenting case pending in the Court. If there are no parenting orders in place you will need to file an initiating application seeking parenting orders at the same time as applying for a recovery order.

What happens next?

The court is not a child recovery agency. If the Court makes an order authorising or directing another person/s to find, recover and deliver the child, you must give a copy of the order to that person or persons. In most instances, this will be to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

  • If the Court makes an order for the recovery of a child, the applicant will need to complete the Recovery Order Family Law Information Sheet.

The AFP has offices in each capital city.

  • When the child is returned to you, you must notify registry staff at the Court as soon as practicable.

What if the child is not found?

In some situations, you may ask the Court to issue other orders to help locate the child; for example:

  • Location order
  • Commonwealth Information Order - Requires Government Departments, such as Centrelink, to give the Court information about the child's location.
  • Publication Order - Allows the media to publish details and photographs of the missing child. 

 My child has been taken overseas without my permission, what can I do?

If this occurs, then the Hague Convention may apply. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty under which arrangements are made for the return of the children that have been wrongfully removed outside their country of residence. The Australian Government Attorney General's Department is the central authority for Australia. For detailed information about the Convention including what countries have agreements in place, and the application process, see the section titled, International parental child abduction on the Attorney General's Department website.

This article and more can be found on the Family Court of Australia website