Do I need a court order to take my children overseas?

Bags packed for your big holiday?
Kids excited?
Got your passports?
Travel permission from the kids’ other parent?

Hang on – he signed the passport applications so I don’t need permission to take the kids on an overseas holiday….
do I?
do i need a court order to take my child overseas

Do I need the other parent's permission to take my kids on holiday overseas?

A surprising number of separated parents travelling with their children don’t realise they need formal written consent or a Family Law Order, for the kids to leave the country.

Under the Family Law Act, the parent who wishes to travel commits a criminal offence punishable by up to 3 years in prison, if they take the children overseas unless:

– you have a Court Order under the Family Law Act permitting you to take the child overseas; or
– written, authenticated consent of anyone named on the Court Order.

If there is a Family Court parenting Order in place which allows overseas travel, you should take a copy of your Family Law Order certified by a JP or Solicitor.
family law taking children overseas
Penalties apply for parents who get it wrong. Then there is the potential for embarrassment being stopped by Immigration and denied permission to travel

Many parents want to travel with their children, but they may not realise the legal restrictions.

If there are family law parenting orders in place these mean one parent taking the children out of the country will require the other’s permission. If you ignore this, it is a criminal offence under the Family Law Act.

If there are no parenting orders in place but someone has filed an application seeking orders, the same applies.

Can I stop my children being taken overseas?

Should you allow your kids to go overseas if the other parent wants to take them for a holiday?

This question was thrown into sharp focus in 2016 when Brisbane mother Sally Faulkner became enmeshed with a TV crew in trying to grab her children from their father in Lebanon. She had given permission for them to travel there with him then he refused to return the children to Australia.

There are restrictions on overseas travel contained in sections 65Y and 65Z of the Family Law Act  which, if breached, can lead to up to 3 years imprisonment.

If you want to prevent overseas travel, consider getting a Child Alert to prevent the issue of an Australian passport

Another option is to have the children placed on the Federal Police Family Law Watch List (aka the Airport Watch List).

The Hague Convention is in force between Australia and many countries.  Those countries agree to uphold child custody orders from other signatory countries, and return children if they are moved or kept overseas without consent.

can I take my child overseas without a court order

How do I get a passport for my children?

Both parents have to sign a Child Passport Application in Australia.

However, there are some exceptions which this family law blog post:
How to get an Australian Child Passport after divorce
explains in detail.
child passport australia

Do I need permission to take my children to another state in Australia?

If you want to take a road trip or have a holiday interstate, you have more flexibility.

There is no restriction on travelling anywhere in Australia during the time the children are in the care of a parent, unless specifically prohibited in a court order.

If not specified in an order, you don’t have to provide details of where you are staying or going.

However, it’s common courtesy and makes for good co-parenting if you let the other parent know if you are going away with the kids (especially in a country like Australia where we have natural disasters and parents can worry).  

Ask yourself if you would want to know where the kids are when they are travelling.
family law can I take my children to another state

What do I need to travel with my child if we have different last names?

If your child has a different surname from you and you are not travelling with the other parent, be aware that Immigration officials in some countries may be very suspicious.

This is not necessarily due to potential family law issues. Sadly, child trafficking is a serious problem and if you and your child have different last names, you may arouse suspicion.

To play it safe, consider taking certified copies of documents such as:

– birth certificate naming you  a parent 

– Family Law Parenting Orders naming you and the children

– your Medicare card listing your children (this will also be handy if you are ill overseas – some countries have reciprocal arrangements with Medicare so having your card will make that process easier too).

The Brisbane Family Lawyers on our team are experienced in arranging the necessary documents to make sure you can travel overseas without breaking the law.

Contact us to discuss your plans to take your kids on an overseas holiday – preferably before you book your flights!