Family Law and Travelling Overseas

Contact Just Family Law on 9793 7888 if you have a family law matter and are travelling overseas with the children for a holiday without your ex-partner’s agreement. If you do not have your ex-partner’s agreement and they apply for court orders, you are likely to be ordered to return the children.

Travelling overseas with a child can be complicated following a separation, especially when parents are in the process of making arrangements through family law proceedings before the Courts.

Securing Permission to Travel Overseas

Before making any travel arrangements, including arranging documents like passports and visas, booking flights and accommodation or making travel plans, parents should secure the consent of the other parent. If no consent is given, parents should get an order from the court for permission to travel.

The court may allow the children to travel if it believes it to be in the children’s best interests. Travel broadens the mind by introducing children to other cultures and languages, to extended family and relatives. Consent cannot be unreasonably withheld by the other party due to jealousy, spite, general nastiness and revenge. If you are taking the children on a genuine holiday during school holiday, and you can satisfy the court that you will return to your home, job and friends, you’ll likely be allowed to go.

However, if the intended travel is a means by which to deny contact, significantly disrupt time with the other parent, bribe the children before a family report, accommodate a new partner, travel with others who will denigrate, or miss time out of school to secure cheap fares, the court will be less sympathetic given this is not in the children’s best interests.

Also, if you have no ties to Australia and request to travel with the children to a country where you have ties, you may not be allowed to go. It is easier to secure permission to travel to a Hague Convention country that you are able to travel to a non-Hague convention country. The court will consider the greatest risk of the children not returning to Australia and the steps you may be taking to permanently relocate them.

If you do not have your ex-partner’s agreement and they apply for court orders, you are likely to be ordered to return the children.

How to proceed when you want to travel

First seek advice from a firm specialising in family law matters, they will be able to guide you through the process of separation and divorce. Just Family Law will be able to help you through the entire process, from agreeing custody arrangements, settling financial matters, dividing assets or agreeing on matters such as travel arrangements for children.

Just Family Law will work with you to negotiate interim arrangements with your ex-partner whilst matters are settled in court. lf you’d prefer a quicker resolution around the question of travel arrangements we can help you find a peaceful resolution with your partner, and seek consent outside of the court room, or help you get a more formal agreement in place in the court room.

Maintaining Open & Honest Communications

When travelling, parents should ensure that they do their best to be as open and honest with their former spouse as possible. Travelling as a single parent can understandably create anxiety on both sides. Parents should be prepared to negotiate on travel arrangements, whether it be the length of the trip, distance, accommodation arrangements or other details of the trip, parents should be as up front as possible about their plans. If consent is given, parents should communicate with the other parent and ensure the itinerary, contact details and accommodation details are communicated to the other parents.

Regular telephone contact skype calls or messages will keep the lines of communication open and help the other parent to feel in the loop. Good communication during travel helps with successful co­ parenting and will make trips overseas or interstate easier for both parents in the future.

We advise that you do not speak to your child about the holiday before securing consent, as there is nothing more devastating for a child than having the excitement of an upcoming holiday dashed when being stopped for being on an Airport Watch List. If your child’s name is placed on the Airport Watch List, should someone try to travel overseas with that child, the Australian Federal Police will stop the travel. Once a child’s name is placed on the Airport Watch List, it will remain on the list until either a further order of the court is issued or until the child turns the age of 18 years.

Divorce and separation are devastating but they don’t have to negatively impact your child’s holiday memories. Open honest communication, or calm court proceedings can have you on your way to enjoying a trip away with your child and set you up for future civil co-parenting arrangements with your ex-spouse.

Call Just Family Law on 9793 7888 to discuss your situation and we will advise you on the best way to promptly solve your family law situation and how to get the best outcome possible.