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Easier resolution of international family disputes

Easier resolution of international family law disputes

Families split between Australia and other countries will find it easier to resolve family law disputes under legislation passed by the Federal Parliament yesterday.

The Family Law Amendment (Child Protection Convention) Bill 2002 amends the Family Law Act 1975 to enable Australia to ratify the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children 1996.

The aim of the legislation is to address conflicts in children’s matters between courts in different countries.

This has been a longstanding area of difficulty for Australian courts, resulting in Australian and overseas courts sometimes making conflicting parenting orders in relation to the same children.

The Convention will provide significant benefits to families facing international litigation by providing clear rules to determine whether courts here or abroad have jurisdiction in particular circumstances.

It also guarantees the recognition and enforcement of Australian parental responsibility orders in other Convention countries.

And it addresses the problem of international cases involving protection of children from abuse and neglect.

The Convention provides rules determining which child protection authorities have jurisdiction in relation to a child.

In Australia this is an area of responsibility for State and Territory Governments. Commonwealth and State officials have been cooperating in the development of a legislative scheme to implement this aspect of the Convention in Australia.

The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Treaties has endorsed the Government's proposal that Australia ratify the Convention.

Australia has already ratified a number of other Hague Conventions on subjects such as Intercountry Adoption, Enforcement of Maintenance Orders and on International Child Abduction.

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