A common reason parents come to see our family law solicitors is where there is a dispute about the children’s passports. These disputes can range from getting a passport for a child where the other parent does not agree to sign the form, to withholding a passport where there are fears the other parent may internationally relocate the children without your consent.
According to the law regarding Australian Passports, to obtain a passport for a child you require the consent of the people with parental responsibility for that child. Parental responsibility was discussed in one of recent articles. Where there are no Court Orders in place the parents of the child have parental responsibility for that child.
In the event you want to take your child overseas and the other parent will not agree to consent to the child’s passport application you have two options.
Firstly you can request that your child’s application be considered under the special circumstances provisions in the passport legislation. Examples of such special circumstances include where you have been unable to contact the other parent or where the other parent has been absent for a substantial period of time. Even if you can provide there are special circumstances the person assessing your application may still refuse to grant the passport.
Your second option and the more common course of action is to commence proceedings in the family courts to permit the travel and allow a passport to be obtained for the child. This involves filing multiple documents including an Initiating Application outlining the orders you are seeking, a Notice of Risk listing any risks of harm to the child, and an Affidavit which details why the Court should make the Orders you are seeking.
Your Affidavit includes all relevant information to your case such as:
- The length and details of the proposed travel including a copy of an itinerary;
- Whether the country is a signatory to the Hague Convention regarding international child abduction. Such Countries have a relationship with Australia to facilitate the return of children that are abducted; and
- Why the travel is in the best interests of the child. This is the most important consideration of the Court when deciding whether to make a parenting order.
Alternatively, where you are the parent wishing to stop the travel or the issuing of a passport for your child, you can apply to the Court to prevent such actions. These Applications often seek orders whereby there is a restraint on the other parent taking the child overseas or in more urgent matters a parent can seek the child be placed on the Airport Watch List by the Australian Federal Police.
Unfortunately disputes regarding passports for children will often require a Court Order to resolve. I you are having issues with another parent about parenting arrangements call Kate Walker, Family Lawyer now on 4324 7699.