A TASMANIAN toddler caught in the middle of a toxic custody battle has been placed on an airport watchlist to prevent his abduction by either parent.
Federal Circuit Court Judge Terry Mcguire ordered the one-year-old, known only as X, be placed on the Australian Federal Police’s watchlist at all international departure points until 2028.
Justice McGuire told a Burnie court that such a lengthy period was necessary because of the “toxic and untrusting” relationship between the estranged parents.
“Both parties are from [another country]. Their connections to Australia are tenuous. Their extended families on both sides remain [in the parent’s country of origin]. Their personal dislike and suspicions remain at a high level,” he said last week.
“To put it mildly, the entrenched caustic conflict between these two parents is so evident … their objectivity and insight into their infant child’s needs was clouded. It is in X’s best interests that he is secured in Australia unless the parents or a court decides otherwise.”
The court heard evidence of an apparent abduction attempt by the father and his brother last year.
The mother was confronted in the state’s North-West by the husband who pushed her to the ground before grabbing the child, however his departure was prevented by onlookers.
The father and his brother, who had flown into Tasmania that day, denied they were attempting to abduct X but Justice McGuire said he preferred the mother’s account.
The court also heard that during their first separation in 2012 the father, his brother and parents visited the mother’s home where she was assaulted by her husband.
“The mother in her evidence refers to other incidents of violence during the relationship and the father’s controlling and coercive demeanour generally,” he said
“I generally accept the mother’s evidence in this regard.”
In ordering the child’s name be placed on the watchlist, the judge stated his passport could not be given to either parent without a court order.
International Social Service Australia works with parents whose children have been abducted.
Manager ISS Australia Legal Services Rosa Saladino said the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention made it easier to retrieve unlawfully removed children but some countries, such as where X’s parents were from, were not a signatory.
“If a child is taken to a country where The Hague convention doesn’t apply then it is very difficult to get the child back. And a lot of people don’t ever get their children back. So it’s a pretty serious harm,” she said.
Ms Saladino said parental abductors were mostly likely to be mothers and anecdotally they will often allege they suffered abuse from their partners.
“Young child, foreign parent, marriage break up and lack of support would be indicative features,” she said.