Children and International Travel After Separation

After separation, taking your children overseas or preventing them from international travel – can be a difficult and lengthy process.

What may seem like a simple travel plan can actually become an application for court orders, so it’s a good idea to start preparing early, whether you want to travel or prevent them from travelling.

Obtaining passports for overseas travel

Whether you intend to go for an overseas holiday or permanently move, difficulties can arise when applying for the children’s passports after separation.

In Australia, a child’s passport application must be signed by all parties who have parental

responsibility for the child. Therefore if you wish to travel overseas with your children and your ex-partner will not sign their passport applications, you are unable to lodge them.

If this happens, you can make a written request to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to consider issuing the passport due to ‘special circumstances’.

If your application to the Department is unsuccessful however, you will need to apply to the Federal or Family Court (depending on your situation) for orders. As part of your application, you should outline the details of your situation in an affidavit. Some of the information that will need to be included in this affidavit is:

  • The purpose of travel
  • A copy of the travel itinerary
  • What county/ies you are travelling to
  • Any necessary undertakings to cover costs for damages to the other parent, if relevant
  • Any other relevant information

Therefore, if you intend to travel overseas with children and you are separated, it is important to start planning early. A standard passport can take around 3 weeks, but it is a good idea to allow additional time if you feel you may not obtain all the required signatures. Definitely start the passport process before you book any flights!

Preventing international travel

If you are separated and are concerned your child may leave Australia without your permission, you should contact us straight away.

There are three ways you can prevent your children from travelling. These include:

  • Preventing a passport from being issued
  • Ordering the delivery of a passport to the court, and
  • Preventing overseas travel altogether

Preventing a passport from being issued

If your child does not already have a passport, you can issue a Child Alert Request or apply for Child Alert Orders through the court. A Child Alert lets the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade know that your child does not have proper consent to leave Australia.

If your alert is granted, it applies for 12 months and will effectively mean you are notified if a passport application is lodged for your child. It is important to note however that this alert does not necessarily mean your child will be prevented from travelling overseas, if they obtain or hold a valid passport already.

Ordering the delivery of a passport to the court

If you child already has a valid passport but you believe they will leave Australia, you can apply to have their passport delivered to the court. If successful, the court will hold onto the passport for a specified period of time.

Preventing overseas travel

If your child has a valid passport and you wish to prevent them from travelling overseas indefinitely, you can apply for court orders. The court orders effectively disallow them from leaving Australia, and their name can be added to the Airport Watch List. Once on the Watch List, they can only be removed by further court orders.

As you can see, international travel can become complicated after separation. If you intend to travel overseas with your children, or if you wish to prevent your children from travelling overseas, you should contact us as soon as possible to start the correct legal processes.

Need advice?

For more information regarding defacto relationships and marriage, get in touch with Burbank & Brown.