Child abduction, relocation and passport consents

Commonly asked questions about relocation, passport application and child abduction

Sometimes parents have to relocate for work or other personal reasons. The physical distance between the parents can have implications for how often a child is able to live with or visit the other parent. This can impact on existing child custody arrangements.

You should promptly seek legal advice when you or the other parent decide to relocate, where this relocation compromises the other parent spending time with the child on a regular basis. The court can get involved in relocation disputes, to prevent custody arrangements being changed without both parties’ permission, and to ensure the child continues to have a substantial relationship with the other parent.

If you wish to relocate and cannot come to an agreement with your former spouse about the arrangements, you can apply to the court for an order to allow you to relocate.

Similarly, you can apply to the court for an order to stop the relocation of your children, if your former spouse wants to relocate with your children, and you do not agree.

For such orders, the court makes its decision based on the best interests of the children. However, it may also take into account other factors that affect the welfare of each of the parents, including extended family support, employment and affordability of living in that location, as these factors may impact what is in the best interests of the child.

Children may not be taken overseas without the consent of both of the parents or a court order. Both parents must sign a passport application for children, or give consent for a child to travel overseas if the child already has a passport.

If you wish to travel overseas with your child, it is a fairly simple procedure to apply to the Family Law Court seeking orders to allow the passport to be issued and permission to be granted to travel. Your former partner cannot unreasonably deny their permission. In fact, you or your former partner can do significant damage to your case by unreasonably denying consent, if there are ongoing child custody proceedings.

However, if you or your former partner feel that there is significant risk in granting permission for the child to be taken overseas, or a real risk the parent may abscond with the child, legal advice should be sought immediately.

International child abduction is when a child is removed from Australia, or when a foreign child is removed from their country of origin to Australia, without the permission of both of the child’s parents. Child abduction can occur before the other parent is even aware of their former partner’s intention to leave Australia. The key element of international child abduction is when the child is taken out of the country in which he or she was “habitually resident”.

The main aim of the Hague Convention is to return children who have been wrongly removed from one Convention Country to another Convention Country promptly. Not all countries have signed the Hague Convention – a complete list of Convention Countries can be found in Schedule 2 of the Family Law (Child Abduction Convention) Regulations 1986.

This means that if a child who normally lives in Australia is abducted overseas to a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention, then the “Central Authority” in Australia will work with its counterpart in the respective country to recover the child and bring him or her back to the country in which they were habitually resident when they were taken.

It is imperative that you seek legal advice urgently in all child abduction cases.

You should seek legal assistance urgently if you have any concerns about your children being removed from the country. You can file an application with the court for parenting orders, if they are not already in place, or seek to have them amended and request an Airport Watchlist Order.

Upon filing your application seeking an Airport Watchlist Order, you can provide a copy of the sealed court application to the Australian Federal Police, who will immediately place the children’s names on the Airport Watchlist. This can occur prior to your first court date. This will prevent your children being able to leave Australia without a further order of the court. Stacks can assist you with this process.

Our experts

Postcode

News

Hornsby law firm Collins & Thompson broadens horizons by joining Stacks Law Firm
03 Apr
Hornsby law firm Collins & Thompson is broadening its horizons by joining Stacks Law ...
Read More
“Not guilty Your Honour, I was sleepwalking when I did it”
31 Mar
A 21-year-old Coffs Harbour man was recently found not guilty of breaking into a nearby ...
Read More
Pursuing a breach of property orders in family law
17 Mar
A client recently asked about her family law situation and her former partner: "He ignores...
Read More
She made his life hell but still got a chunk of his estate
15 Feb
An ex-wife who vowed she would make “what was left” of her ex-husband’s “wretched ...
Read More
Helping your business survive through death and divorce – family law and estate planning strategies
14 Feb
In a business context, the failure of a marriage or de facto relationship or the death, ...
Read More
Relocating to another state with your child after divorce: steps you can take
27 Jan
So you’ve met the partner of your dreams and want to live happily ever after, but ...
Read More
What happens to your business when you get divorced?
27 Jan
Whether you are married or in a de facto relationship, divorcing or separating from your ...
Read More
Documenting agreements in family law – parenting plans, consent orders and binding financial agreements
18 Jan
Recently we published the article Five good reasons to try to resolve your family law ...
Read More
The importance of emotional intelligence for lawyers
20 Dec
Growing up and then coming to study law, I had always worried that my tendency to ...
Read More
Family lawyers urged to steer clients towards private mediation
09 Dec
In the years I have practised in family law I have become convinced of the many benefits ...
Read More
Ten point checklist to update your estate planning
08 Dec
New year’s resolutions usually last as long as the beer and cake left over from the ...
Read More

Why Stacks


No hidden fees
Nobody likes surprises on their bills, so we take the time to agree with you exactly what our work will cost before we do it (not after!)

Deep expertise
Our lawyers aren’t ‘general practitioners’, they’re experts in their chosen fields of practice (many are Accredited Specialists)

Practical advice not legalese
We provide clear, practical advice, in plain English, so that you can make decisions with confidence


Over 25 local offices
Our local offices are owned and operated by friendly, local professionals, who are proud and active members of the communities they serve

Real client care
Genuine care for clients has been at the core of our practice since the first office was opened by ER Stack on the NSW Mid-North Coast in 1931

Progressive practice
We invest in technology and systems so that our services are always cost effective and clients are in control of their own legal affairs

More about our promises

Get help now

It's easy to get help, just tell us your story and we'll help you understand all your options. If you’d like us to help, we’ll agree exactly the work you'd like us to do up front so that you can be certain about our costs.

Your enquiry is completely confidential.

Fill out this form and one of our experts will contact you
within one business day

By submitting this form you agree to the terms of our Privacy policy

Need help? We’re here to assist