Overseas travel for separated families – some things to consider

With Christmas only 6 weeks away and school holidays looming many parents will be thinking about holidays and domestic and overseas travel. It is timely to think about your rights and obligations as a parent who seeks to travel overseas with your children.

The first hurdle can often be having passports issued for the children. If the children do not already hold passports then both parents are required to sign an application seeking the passport is issued and if one parent refuses then the passport office will not issue passports for the children.  The parent who wants the passports so they can travel will need to make an Application to the Court and seek the other parent sign an application for the passport and if they refuse then the court sign on their behalf. When making such applications parents also need to think about the types of orders they need for travel, for example if there are any restrictions on where a parent can travel, who is to hold the passport and how long can the travel be for to name a few.

It is important to be aware that if there are court proceedings underway or there are parenting orders already in place which do not provide for overseas travel then pursuant to Section 65Y of the Family Law Act the parent who wishes to travel overseas with the children must first obtain the written consent of the other party before removing the child from the country, even if it is for a short holiday.  If you are unable to obtain that written consent from the other parent then you again must turn to the Courts and make an Application for the travel orders that you seek be made.

At McLaughlins Lawyers we are often asked by parents what they need to tell their ex-partner about when they want to travel with the children,  tips we often provide to parents  include:-

  1. Plan ahead and do not commit to any bookings you have written consent from the other parent. In our experience the most common difficulty arises where a parent books a holiday without first obtaining the other parents consent to have a passport issued, or the consent to travel. The parent booking the holiday runs the risk of loosing money they have paid for the holiday and disappointing the children when the planned and paid for holiday does not go ahead.
  1. Provide the other parent all the information you can about the proposed travel and provide as much notice as you can. Give details regarding the destination, the length of the holiday, where you will be staying and how the children can be contacted when they are away. Provide the other parent with your travel itinerary and copies of travel insurance documents.
  1. Be flexible with time. If you are seeking to spend additional time with the children then you would normally do so, or trying to negotiate more time then what any existing orders provide for, then consider offering the other parent additional time when you return with the children, or be flexible with respect to the remainder of the school holiday break so that there is some incentive for your ex-partner to consent to your travel plans.

If you are unsure as to whether you are permitted to travel with your children or need help negotiating overseas holiday plans with your ex-partner please contact the family law department at McLaughlins Lawyers today.