As some of the best family law solicitors on the Gold Coast, we regularly field queries from parents concerned that their ex-partner might take a child overseas without their consent. One of the first questions we ask is whether the child has a passport. If the child doesn’t yet have a passport, we suggest that the parent files a Child Passport Alert with the Passport Office.
A Child Passport Alert signals to the Passport Office that an application for a passport related to a specific child should be examined carefully. To lodge a Child Passport Alert request, the person making the request must have “parental responsibility” for the child involved. Unless court orders declare that one parent has ‘sole responsibility’, it’s assumed both parents share equal responsibility.
The definition of “parental responsibility” for these issues is in section 11(5) of the Australian Passports Act 2005. Typically, this means the parent’s name is on the child’s birth certificate, but parents who aren’t named on the certificate may also be considered to have parental responsibility. If a parent is not named on the birth certificate, they must complete a Form B-8 to provide evidence of their parental responsibility. This form is used to gather data such as whether there is a child support assessment in place. Interestingly, the same Form B-8 can be used by the other parent to try to circumvent the need for both parents’ consent for a child’s passport.
It’s important to note that the Child Alert Request does not guarantee a passport won’t be issued in the child’s name. It also won’t cancel an existing passport, whether it’s Australian or foreign. Lastly, unless it’s backed by a Court Order, a Child Alert Request will expire 12 months from the date it’s received.
Given that the Request doesn’t ensure the other parent won’t be able to get a passport issued in the child’s name, you should seek advice about what steps you should take. If your child already has a passport, and you fear the child may be taken overseas without your consent, it’s crucial to get urgent legal advice from child custody lawyers on the Gold Coast about your options to prevent the child from being removed from Australia. You may need to make an urgent application to the court to place the child on the airport watch list to prevent them from leaving the country.
Here at Collective Family Law Group, our family law lawyers in Gold Coast offer a free initial consultation. Feel free to reach out to us at 5574 0971 or visit us at collectivefamilylaw.com.au.