Family breakdowns are a stressful business. You’re likely to feel physically and emotionally exhausted and in desperate need of a break. An overseas holiday for you and the kids could be just what you need.
But hang on just a minute. Before you pack your bags let’s make sure your family law issues are all taken care of.
Passports for the children
First things first – do your children have passports?
If not you will need to make an application to the Australian Passport Office: each parent will need to sign the passport application. Even if a parent has sole parental responsibility, the other parent is still usually required to sign the passport application.
What happens if my ex-partner doesn’t consent?
In an ideal world your ex-partner would happily provide written consent for the passport application, give you some spending money and offer to drive you to the airport. But we don’t live in an ideal world and it is not uncommon for a partner to refuse to provide consent. It may also be impossible to gain consent if you can’t locate your ex-partner.
So what can you do about this?
Under the Passport Act a passport may still be granted without the necessary consent if it is decided that there are special circumstances. An example of a special circumstance may be when the other parent cannot be located.
If the Passport Office refuses to grant the application you can apply to the court for an order that a passport be issued without the consent of both parents. If an order is made by the court that a passport is issued without a parent’s consent, it can often take 5-6 weeks to obtain the passport.
We always advise that final holiday bookings be delayed until the passport application has been signed.
Do I need to get my ex’s consent to take the children overseas?
What if your ex doesn’t agree to the trip? Is their permission essential?
If there are court orders in place, you must obtain consent from the other parent (and any others with parental responsibility), or permission from the court before taking a child overseas. If you fail to obtain this consent, you are committing an offence under the Family Law Act.
If there are no court orders in place then it is still advisable that you discuss any travel plans with the other parent before taking a child overseas.
If agreement cannot be reached, a parent can apply to the court to request that an order be made allowing the child to travel. In considering the application, the court’s primary consideration is whether the trip is in the child’s best interests. The court will consider matters such as the length of the trip and the countries to be visited, the age of the child, the parent’s previous compliance with orders and any risk that the child may not be returned to Australia.
*This information is supplied as general advice only. For expert advice relating to your specific family law issue, contact one of our experienced and professional family law solicitors on 02 4929 3995 or at firstname.lastname@example.org