When one parent seeks to relocate a child overseas, complex family law issues may arise
When parents separate, it is not uncommon for one parent to seek to relocate with the children of the relationship. This can mean moving a few hours away, interstate or where a parent wishes to move overseas with a child after separation.
What are my rights and responsibilities if I wish to move overseas with my child after separation?
Unless otherwise specified by a Court Order, there is a presumption that separated parents have equal shared parental responsibility for any child under the age of 18. This means that both parents share the responsibility to make major long-term decisions about the children.
If you are seeking to move overseas with your children, you should first advise your ex-partner (or any other person who has parental responsibility) of your intention and seek their consent.
What are my rights and responsibilities if my ex-partner wishes to move overseas with my children?
There are situations in which separating parents can agree on relocation arrangements, or even for international travel for specified periods of time. However, this is not always the case.
If your ex-partner is attempting to move the children overseas without your knowledge or consent, we recommend that you urgently seek legal advice.
What is the Airport Watchlist?
There are measures that can be taken to prevent one parent from unilaterally removing the child from the country. For example, your child’s name can be listed on the Australian Federal Police Airport Watchlist in circumstances which include:
- A Court has made an Order requiring that your child is placed on the Airport Watchlist
- A Court has made an Order that prevents or limits the international travel of your child
- An Application requesting the Court to place your child on the Airport Watchlist or to limit overseas travel. (Your child’s name can be included on the Watchlist even if the Application has not been heard by the Court and an Order has not yet been made)
The Court can make Orders which are either conditional or absolute.
An absolute order means that the child is prevented from any international travel. A conditional order specifically sets out that despite the child being placed on the Airport Watchlist, the children are permitted to travel overseas on specific conditions, for example:
- Both parents have previously provided written consent
- The travel is for a specific period
What happens next?
- An Application has been made to the Court that seeks to prevent or limit the overseas travel of your child; or
- The Court has made an Order that your child is not to travel overseas or that your child is to be placed on the Airport Watchlist, the next step is to complete the Family Law Airport Watchlist request form.
Once the form has been completed, it then needs to be emailed to the Australian Federal Police, together with a copy of the Application or Order. Once received, your child’s name can be placed on the Watchlist for all international airports. As soon as your child is placed on the Airport Watchlist, Customs will notify the Australian Federal Police if someone attempts to remove your child from Australia. Steps will be immediately taken to prevent them travelling overseas.
If you are concerned that your partner may attempt to relocate or remove the children from Australia without your consent or knowledge, seek legal advice as soon as possible.
DISCLAIMER: We accept no responsibility for any action taken after reading this article. It is intended as a guide only and is not a substitute for the expert legal advice you can receive from marshalls+dent+wilmoth and other relevant experts.