With a healthy tourism market and affordable air travel, Australians are finding it more and more appealing to take the kids on an international vacation. For separated families, travelling internationally with their children isn’t as simple as nabbing a cheap flight and resort package deal online. Parents need to be aware of the issues which arise in relation to international travel where there is a parenting dispute and of how to manage these. Early planning and timely legal advice are key.
Do I need the other parent’s permission?
If no parenting Court Orders are in place, you do not need the other parent’s consent for holiday travel. However, it is wise to give the other parent plenty of notice before departure. This may lessen the risk of the other parent attempting to stop the child’s travel at the last minute.
If parenting Court Orders are in place, or if Court proceedings are underway in relation to the child, you cannot take the child overseas without the written consent of the other party or a Court Order permitting the travel. To do so is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years. A specific written authority signed by the other parent is required. You should consult a lawyer in this situation to ensure the requirements are met.
Getting a passport and the other parent’s consent to travel
Often to get the trip off the ground, the consent of the other parent is needed to obtain a passport for the child. The Australian Passport Office will telephone both parents for verification after a child’s application for a passport is submitted. The process may be halted if consent is not given.
This is the case unless you have a Court Order granting you sole parental responsibility for the child and a copy of that Order is submitted with the passport application.
It can sometimes be difficult to obtain the other parent’s consent. Sometimes there is a good reason for not providing consent. Other times, there is not.
A parent who objects to overseas travel may seek to stop the child from leaving the country by obtaining “Airport Watchlist Orders” from the Court. In some cases, these orders can be obtained from the Court without your knowledge. They result in you being stopped at the airport and from departing with the child.
The other parent doesn’t consent – what can I do?
If the other parent won’t consent, you must apply to Court for Orders permitting the child to travel and/or for a passport to be issued.
A Court will decide whether it is in the best interests of the child to go on the overseas trip. If the Court considers that there is a risk of the child being removed from Australia permanently, you would not be successful.
If you are thinking of travelling overseas with your child, give yourself plenty of time to obtain a passport for the child and the other party’s consent.