Travelling, with its inherent demands of meticulous planning and organisation, is often a complex endeavour.
Add to this the intricacies of separated parenting, and the complexity multiplies.
To help you understand the steps you must take as a separated parent taking your child abroad, we have compiled this guide.
Australian family law and parental rights
For separated parents taking a child abroad from Australia, it is important to have an understanding of the Family Law Act 1975 (‘the Act’). This Act addresses a wide range of matters, including the concept of parental responsibility, how decisions regarding a child should be made and the rights of the parties involved post-separation.
Seeking consent for travelling with children after separation
In the majority of cases, a separated parent must obtain consent from the other parent before travelling with children overseas, after separation. Written consent is highly recommended as it offers clarity but in some countries is also essential.
But what happens when one parent withholds consent? Mediation provides a neutral platform for both parents to address their concerns. If at mediation you do not reach an agreement, a court order can be obtained.
Travelling without the other parent’s consent, especially if in violation of an existing valid court order that outline the terms of a child’s travel, can result in significant legal consequences, sometimes even being categorised as international child abduction under Australian law. Hence, consent is crucial for separated parents contemplating overseas journeys with their children.
Consequences of travelling without consent
Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention, which seeks to prevent child abduction across international borders.
If your child has been taken to another country without your consent, the Hague Convention provides mechanisms for the child’s return, provided the country is a party to the Convention.
If you travel without the other parent’s consent, this could result in criminal charges or even a variation to your parenting arrangements.
If you are unsure about your rights to travel with your children, you can contact us at Dorter Family Lawyers and Mediators. We can provide you with expert family law advice.
Can I prevent unauthorised overseas travel for my child?
Family law Watchlist
This system, operated in conjunction with the Australian Federal Police, can be used to prevent a child from leaving Australia. By placing a child on this Watchlist, alerts are generated if there is an attempt to take the child out of Australia. To place a child on the Watchlist, you should apply to the Court seeking urgent orders.
Court orders can restrict or define the terms of overseas travel for a child. Such orders can specify conditions of travel, duration, destination, or the need for mutual parental consent before travel.
If you require assistance about travel orders for your children, please contact us at Dorter Family Lawyers and Mediators.
Another preventive measure involves holding the child’s passport. If a child does not have a passport, the concerned parent can request the Australian Passport Office not issue one without their written consent. If the child already possesses a passport, a court order might be necessary to prevent its use for unauthorised travel.
Seek expert family law advice today
If you require clarity on a child passport application or overseas travel for a child after separation, we are here to help. At Dorter Family Lawyers and Mediators, we provide clarity to help you understand your obligations as a parent – whether you are wishing to travel with your child or you are concerned about your child travelling overseas with their other parent.