We live in a multicultural society and it is not uncommon that we find parents or even children were born overseas and have moved to Australia to live permanently.
Unfortunately, in cases where there is a separation and there is a connection to an overseas country (such as a birthplace or extended family reside there), this causes some real concerns on the possibility of the children being taken overseas without the other parent’s consent.
The Family Law Act sets out the obligations for parents if they intend to travel overseas and there are Parenting Orders in place, it is an offence to not obtain consent from the other parent relating to travel overseas with a child (if it is not allowed for under the Parenting Order).
The offence outlined in the Family Law Act may be insufficient to deter the parent from travelling overseas, especially if they are in possession of the child’s passport.
Family Law Watchlist
If you are concerned that the other parent may take the child or children overseas without your consent, it may be appropriate in your circumstances that an Application is filed with the Court seeking Orders that the child/ren be included on a Family Law Watchlist.
The Watchlist is operative at all international airports and seaports. If the child has been placed on the Watchlist, customs will notify the Australian Federal Police and the child will be prohibited from departing the airport/seaport at that time.
There are very specific Orders to include in the Application and we strongly encourage you to seek legal advice from one of our family lawyers to gain a better understanding of the Court process and what is required to be included in your Application and supporting Court documents.
The Family Law Watchlist is managed by the Australian Federal Police. Once there is an Order made by the Court regarding the Family Law Watchlist, then this will need to be served onto the Australian Federal Police. The Court will not serve the Australian Federal Police with the Application or Order. Therefore service of your Application and/or Court Order must be attended to promptly.
Travelling overseas with children should be included in the discussions when negotiating the parenting arrangements. Issues such as who will have possession of the passports or renewal of passports may need to be included in the Parenting Plan or Court Orders to avoid future disputes regarding overseas travel.
Our team can guide you through the negotiation process, even if you want to avoid us involved directly in the negotiations with the other parent. There may some areas which may have not been addressed yet in the negotiation process, to no fault of either parent, however seeking advice from one of our experienced family lawyers will provide you with greater clarity on issues to discuss with the other parent.
Seek Immediate Advice
If you are concerned that the other parent may take the child or children overseas without your consent, we encourage you to seek immediate legal advice regarding your circumstances. Alternatively, if you are considering travelling overseas and you have Parenting Orders in place, it is important that you seek legal advice before arranging your travels.