Recovery Orders – what are they and who should apply

Parenting after separation can be messy, as often emotions are running high and neither parent wants to feel like they are missing out on time with their children.
As you try and learn how to co-parent from different households, you may encounter some difficulties along the way.
After separation its important to remain child-focused and try and keep communication open and polite.


If you find yourself in a situation where the other parent does not return your child after spending time with them, or has relocated interstate or overseas without your consent, you can apply to the Court for a Recovery order. This is done by filing an Initiating Application, Affidavit and Notice of Risk. Information about those documents can be found here.


A recovery order is an Order of the court that requires the children to be ‘recovered’, often from one parent and returned to the other. However, Recovery orders are not limited to parents, as the following people can apply:

  • A person who the child lives with, spends time or communicates with in a parenting order
  • A person who has parental responsibility for the child
  • A grandparent of the child
  • A person concerned with the care, welfare and development of the child (when there are no formal orders in place)


After filing an application with the Court it will often be heard on the first day. The Court will then make a decision based on your evidence contained in your affidavit. If the Court orders that the child be returned to you, they will issue a ‘Recovery Order’ which is then given to the


Family Law Unit of the Australian Federal Police. You will also have to fill out a Recovery Order Information Sheet to provide the Federal Police with as much information as possible.


To get a sense of how the Court deals with recovery applications, here are two that we have been involved in recently:

Family Court

Federal Circuit Court


Should you find yourself in this situation it is important to remember to act quickly and where possible obtain legal advice prior to filing an application with the Court.

You can contact our experienced Family Law Solicitors at Forshaw Lawyers on 9620 1379 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Court’s website also provides helpful information which can be found here

This blog was written by Sarah Hernandez who also successfully represented the Applicants in each of the published judgments above.

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