THE number of single parents kidnapping their own children is on the rise with hardline community groups advising fathers that government agencies are slow to act over Christmas.
There are nearly 200 parental abductions cases across the country every year and The Daily Telegraph understands that one single fathers’ group is telling its members the Christmas holidays are an ideal time to take children without consent because courts are on a go-slow.
Geoff Day condemned the agency and said estranged parents often take children during the holidays – and do not return them after access visits.
Mr Day said custodial parents were frustrated because Australian laws were so outdated that it could take months to set a court date to get a recovery order.
Karen Morris, whose agency Inter-relate runs three of the Federal Government’s new Family Relationship Centres, said long court waiting lists were part of the problem.
“Christmas is so emotive. Parents argue a lot over who gets the kids. That combined with (the fact that) some services aren’t in full force does elevate the risk.”
NSW has one of the highest rates of international child abduction and solicitor Sally Nichols, who deals with a number of these cases, said international cases in particular were a trend – with mothers the common culprit.
“International (abduction) is generally on the increase, and domestically it’s chronic at this time of year,” Ms Nichols said.
One single mother, who spoke to The Daily Telegraph yesterday, said she was told government agencies could do nothing to retrieve her daughter, who was taken by her father before Christmas, without a copy of the official court order.
But almost two weeks later she still had not seen the order and was unable to find a solicitor to take her case.
“He ended up bringing her back, but if he had not done that he would still have her.