Travelling overseas with your children after a separation may raise several concerns. Dealing with them early can save you both time and money. Taking a child on international travel without the permission of the other parent is called parental child abduction. Find out more by reading our page on Parental Child Abduction.
The main issue with permitting the other parent to take your children on international travel is the fear that the children will not return. This often results in the non-travelling parent refusing to cooperate with international travel plans or taking steps to prevent such travel. Parents who make plans to travel with children may have their international travel plans disrupted, and travel expenses lost, if they do not make arrangements with the other parent early in the process.
Do you want to do international travel with the kids?
When deciding on an international destination, we recommend you do the following:
Check to see if the country you are considering has signed the Hague Convention
The Hague Convention is a treaty which commits member countries to the return of any child who was taken by one parent from their country of residence without the permission of the other parent. Travel to a country that has not signed this treaty may provide a basis for the other parent to block you taking the children. Check out the Attorney General Website for a complete list of countries which have signed the Hague Convention.
Discuss your international travel plans with the other parent before making any bookings
Applying for a child’s passport normally requires both parents’ approval, but there are some special circumstances where a passport can be issued with just one parent’s approval. These circumstances are very limited. For more information as to what constitutes ‘special circumstances’ check out the Australian Passport Office website.
If the other parent refuses to approve a passport application, it may be necessary for you to apply for a court order to have a passport issued and to enable international travel. As this process could take several months or longer, it should be sorted out well before any travel arrangements are made.
What can I do to prevent my kids doing international travel?
Do you have valid concerns about your children travelling internationally with the other parent?
These concerns may be reinforced if the international travel plans involve your children travelling to a country which has not signed the Hague Convention. Another concern may arise if your child has a passport issued by a country that has not signed the Hague Convention, in which case, the parent proposing to travel with the child might portray that they are travelling to a Hague Convention country, but later change their international travel plans to divert to a country that has not signed the Hague Convention. If you have a concern about your child travelling to a non-Hague Convention country, instead of blocking the international travel completely, we suggest that you propose to the other parent they divert their travel plans to a country that has signed the Hague Convention.
If your child does not have a passport, you may refuse to sign the passport application. If you are concerned that the other parent might attempt to process the application without proper signatures, a Child Alert Request (Form PC9) can be submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. If your child already has a passport and you are concerned that the other parent intends to take your child on international travel without your permission, you can make an urgent parenting order application through the family law courts for a ‘Pace Alert’ which temporarily prohibits the child from travelling internationally. Once the application is filed with the Court, the Application along with a Family Law Watch List Request Form should be submitted to the Australian Federal Police.
Seek Prompt Legal Advice
If you are planning to do international travel with your children and the other parent is not cooperating, or if you believe the other parent intends to leave the country, taking the children without your permission, it is important that you get legal advice as early as possible.
Contact our family law expert Courtney Barton at Barton Family Lawyers for advice and a plan to enable you to choose the outcome you desire.
Author: Tony Kitts