The period of time following a separation or divorce can be extremely stressful for all parties involved, so it’s understandable that you may want to go on holiday and take your children with you. But what are your rights and responsibilities? And will overseas travel with your children affect any custody of children, child support or parenting plan arrangements?
Permission for Overseas Travel
Before doing anything else, you need to obtain permission from your child’s other parent for overseas travel – in line with the Family Law Act 1975. If you have permission, there will be no problem with taking your child overseas and it won’t affect any custody of children, child support or parenting arrangements. Problems will only arise if court proceedings are underway, in which case you should reconsider overseas travel.
When applying for a passport for your child, both parents must sign the application form. If one parent refuses to sign, you can apply to the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court for permission to have the passport issued without that parent’s consent. If there are concerns that the child might be taken abroad without consent, an application can be made (again, through the Family or Federal Circuit Courts) which will prevent a passport from being issued and the child from being taken outside of Australia.
Overseas Travel Alerts
If a child doesn’t have a passport and there is concern that a parent might try to get them one without the other parent’s permission, a Child Alert Request can be submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. With this alert, there is no guarantee that the passport won’t be issued, but the department will notify the parent if a passport application is made.
If a child already has a passport and there is concern that a parent may try to take them overseas without the other’s consent, a Family Law Watch List can be registered with the Australian Federal Police. This can only be done if there is an order from the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court concerning the family’s living arrangements. A Family Law Watch List will allow the police to add the child’s information to an airport watch list.
If your ex is being uncooperative, or if you have further questions about overseas travel with your children, it’s best to seek expert legal advice. Lawyers experienced in family law will have dealt with many cases similar to yours, so will be able to give you the legal advice you need in relation to taking your children overseas without causing problems.