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Seeking urgent recovery orders in the Family Court

Meeting your clients needs

Clients are usually distressed and angry when they approach a solicitor in these matters. Often they have been through a number of different agencies including the Police, LawAccess NSW, the Family Court Information Line, the Department of Community Services (DoCS) and the counter staff at the Court. Clients are looking for reassurance and more importantly a quick resolution. The following steps can be useful when assisting a distressed client:

Speak to your client alone and assess the urgency and risk of the situation

It can be difficult when a client attends with other family members or support workers but the information must come from your client as it is their application and their affidavit.

Explain clearly the steps you will be taking and also the time frame that you will be working within

It is important to manage your client’s expectations of what will occur in court and the process which will be followed. This would include explaining that the following will occur:

  • you will prepare an urgent application and an affidavit;
  • you will apply to the Court for the matter to be listed urgently;
  • you will be appearing in court on your client’s behalf.

Often this type of application is the first time a client has seen a solicitor or been involved in a family dispute. It is important that as their solicitor, you remain calm and be very clear about the process and their prospects of success.

Ask your client to fill in an information sheet

It can be difficult to have a client concentrate on providing relevant information that you will need to complete a successful application. It can sometimes be much simpler to ask your client to fill out an information sheet as it provides a starting point for your questions. Attached to this kit is an information sheet which you may find useful.

After court

If you have been successful in obtaining a Recovery Order you will need to liaise with the Australian Federal Police. The website for the Australian Federal Police is www.afp.gov.au and you will need to speak with the Family Law Team. It is often useful for your client to provide a photo of the children and the other party and to also provide as much detail as possible in relation to the whereabouts of the other party and children. There are forms that the Australian Federal Police request that you fill out and immediately forward to them. These forms can be found on the Australian Federal Police website.

If the children are found interstate it is not the responsibility of the Australian Federal Police to return the children to your client. Your client will need to make their own travel arrangements to collect the children and their own travel arrangements to return to NSW with the children. Sometimes the Salvation Army or other charities can be contacted to provide some assistance in this regard.