Recovery Order Application in a Case

What is a recovery order?

A recovery order is defined in section 67Q of the Family Law Act 1975. It is an order of the Court that can require a child be returned to a:

  • parent of the 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, or
  • a person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child. For example, you may be the person who the child lives or spends time with but there is no parenting order that states this.

How do I apply for a recovery order?

Before you apply for a recovery order you should read the fact sheet Recovery orders. You should also refer to the Australian Federal Police Family Law Kit.

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 or persons 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 the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The AFP has offices in each capital city and some regional locations. Contact details are available on

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

What if the child still isn’t found?

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

  • Location order – if you breach a parenting order and you cannot be found, a court may make a location order.
  • Commonwealth Information order – requires a Commonwealth Government Department, such as Centrelink, to give the Court information about the child’s location that is contained in or comes into the records of the department.
  • Publication order – allows the media to publish details and photographs of the missing child and the person they are believed to be with. However, each case is different and the terms of the publication order can vary. This is usually a last resort and you should seek legal advice first.

For more information about what recovery orders are and who can apply for them, see the Recovery Orders fact sheet.

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

If your child is taken from their home country without your permission, or without the authorisation of a court, 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 children that have been wrongfully removed or retained outside their country of residence.

The Convention has set up a central authority in each signature country to deal with applications for the return of children taken to or from each country.

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.


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