We were recently contacted by a person seeking advice because he was concerned that his ex was going to take his children overseas without his consent.
Where do you stand if you are in a similar situation?
The Australian Federal Police maintains the Family Law Watchlist. If your children are on the Watchlist, the police will be alerted if an attempt is made to remove them from Australia.
To have your children registered on the Watchlist you need to have obtained a court order, or have proceedings pending for a court order (whether that be initial proceedings or proceedings under appeal).
Specifically, the order (or order sought) will prohibit or limit the children’s travel overseas and request that the Australian Federal Police place the children’s names on the Watchlist for a specified period of time.
Once you have an order (or have filed your Initiating Application), you can then complete the Family Law Watchlist Request Form. A copy of the Order or sealed Initiating Application will need to be forwarded with your request form. You can confirm whether your children’s names are on the Watchlist by completing a Family Law Watchlist Enquiry Form.
Your children’s names will remain on the Watchlist for the duration of the Court Order. If proceedings are pending when the names go on the Watchlist, they will remain on the list until the proceedings have been dealt with. If a final order is made to place the children on the Watchlist for a further period, it would be wise to complete a fresh Family Law Watchlist Request Form.
If someone attempts to take the children overseas while the Order is in place (or the Application), the person attempting to remove the children from the country will be liable to punishment of 3 years imprisonment.
What if you have an order, but you agree to a party travelling overseas with the children?
If you have an order which prevents international travel altogether, you will need to obtain a further order from the Court to enable you to take the children overseas, even if you have the consent of the other parent.
If you have an order that prevents international travel without consent, you need to provide the Australian Federal Police with evidence that the consent of the other parent has been provided.
You should carry copies of all of your documentation to the airport to avoid any possible delay. You should also contact the Australian Federal Police at least 10 days prior to your intended travel to notify them of the arrangements.
If you decide that you no longer want the children’s names on the Watchlist, you will most likely need a further order from the Court (unless your order was for a fixed duration).