Travelling overseas with children – do you need your ex’s permission?

For many of us, family memories are made during holiday times. The adventures we have with our family as children ourselves, then later as parents, are strong in our memories. Even if all didn’t go smoothly at the time (and even the best of holidays have their hiccups along the way!) most of us look back fondly at times shared on vacation with family members.

Most people look forward to holidays with great anticipation. Whether you’re planning a week long camping trip, a beach holiday or even a longer trip abroad, the preparation and planning can almost be as exciting as the trip itself.  For parents who are not in a relationship with their child’s other parent, an extra factor needs to be added to the pre trip checklist – have you got the other parent’s permission to take the kids on a holiday?

Do I need my ex’s permission to take our child overseas?

Many people are surprised to find the answer to this question is – “yes”. Where parenting orders exist (or an application seeking orders has been filed) one parent taking the children out of the country will require the other’s permission. Under the Family Law Act, it is necessary for a Family Law Order or formal written consent to be granted to take children out of the country. Failure to do is considered a criminal offence and may result in a prison sentence.

Can I stop my ex taking our children out of the country?

Media events over recent years have drawn attention to the issue of parents who wish to prohibit their children being taken out of the country, particularly where they feel the other parent may have no intention of returning to Australia.

Parents who wish to prevent their children being taken out of the country can do in one of two ways:

  1. Refusing to agree to the issue of a passport By law, both parents must sign a child’s passport application, giving consent to the travel document being issued. Refusing to sign a passport application will prevent, or at least, delay the passport process.  You may also apply for a Child Alert to prevent a passport being issued.
  2. Adding their name to the Family Law Watch List. If a passport already exists in your child’s name, you may be able to add their name to the Australian Federal Police’s Family Law Watch List. In order to do this you must first apply for a Passenger Analysis Clear and Evaluation (PACE) System Alert for your child. If this is granted by the Court, then you can apply to have your child included on the Watch List which monitors people leaving Australia by air and sea ports.

What if I don’t have access to the child’s passport?

In the situation that you wish to take your child overseas and their passport is being withheld by their other parent, then you can seek legal action to have the passport handed over to you.  Alternately, you can request that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issue a new passport in the child’s name.

 

 At Umbrella Family Law we can help parents negotiate holiday and travel arrangements that meet with the needs and wishes of both parents. We can also assist parents who wish to seek orders to prevent their children travelling overseas in general or to particular countries.  If you feel your children are at risk of being taken out of Australia without your permission, or you wish to seek approval to travel, contact us for a discussion.