Travelling Overseas with Children after Divorce or Separation

A parent wishing to take a child overseas should obtain the other parent’s consent.

In the event that a parent wishes to travel with a child for a holiday overseas, and the other parent refuses to agree, they may apply for orders. If the court is satisfied that it will be in the child’s best interest, it will allow the child to travel. The court will require full details of the intended travel arrangements, including dates of travel and intended destinations.

The court will also consider the risks of the child not returning to Australia, and can also make orders for a parent to provide financial security (a bond) in order to retrieve the passports and travel overseas with the child. That bond would be returned to the parent upon the child’s return to Australia and the delivery of their passport back to the court.

Passports


By law, the written consent of each parent must be provided before an Australian passport can be issued for a child, and both parents must sign an application for a passport. Should one parent wish to travel with a child, and the other parent is refusing to sign an application for a passport, application may be made to the Family or Federal Magistrates Courts for an order permitting the child’s passport to be issued without the other parent’s consent.

Alternatively, where there is concern that a child may be taken from Australia without consent, an application may be made to either the Family Court or Federal Magistrates Court of Australia, preventing a passport from being issued for a child and the child from travelling outside Australia.

Alerts


Where a child does not have an Australian passport, and there is concern that the other parent may attempt to obtain a passport without the other parents consent, a ‘Child Alert Request’ can be made to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Alert does not guarantee that the passport will not be issued. However, if any application for a passport is made in the child’s name, the Department can notify the other parent. An Alert Request remains valid for 12 months.

In circumstances where a child already has an Australian Passport, and there is concern that they may be removed from Australia without the other parent’s consent, it is possible to have a ‘PACE Alert’ registered with the Australian Federal Police, provided there is an order of the Family or Federal Magistrates Courts in respect of the living arrangements of the children.

The PACE Alert will enable the Australian Federal Police to register the child’s details on an Airport Watch List at all international departure points within Australia and prevent the child from departing Australia.

If there are no court orders in place for the living arrangements of the child, an application for orders for the children’s living arrangements and specifically an order for the Australian Federal Police to register the PACE Alert in the child’s name will need to be made. The PACE Alert will not be activated until the order is granted by the court, and a copy of the written order is provided to the Australian Federal Police.

Other countries have different requirements for issuing passports. Neither the ‘Child Alert Request’ or the ‘PACE Alert’ will prevent a person applying for a foreign passport or prevent them from travelling with a child who already holds a foreign passport. It may be possible to prevent a foreign passport being issued for the child, or stop a child travelling on a passport from another country, and we recommend that contact be made with the relevant Embassy of that country in Australia.

To find out more, please contact our Family Law team.