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The Legal Basics of Travelling Overseas with Children after Separation or Divorce

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The long Christmas holidays present a golden opportunity for overseas travel for many families. But for divorced or separated parents travelling with children, an international holiday may take special preparations.

The lurking fear, of course, is that a parent may take children beyond the reach of the Australian courts and then fail to return with them. Rational or not, the fear of international abduction has to be addressed, so some step-by-step planning is in order.
The fundamental rule is that a parent should always obtain written consent of the other before taking children for an international holiday. If a parenting order is in force or if court proceedings are pending, it is a crime to remove children from Australia without consent or a court order. The penalties include jail time.

Travelling overseas over the long holidays may provide an important opportunity for children to find and build ties with extended family. But for divorced or separated parents, the trip will take some additional advance planning.

At Owen Hodge Lawyers, we look forward to helping you and your family with any issues you may have with overseas holiday travel with children. Please call us to schedule a consultation at 1800 780 770.

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The Legal Basics of Travelling Overseas with Children after Separation or Divorce

  1. 1. Travelling Overseas with Children after Separation or Divorce Legal Basics The long Christmas holidays present a golden opportunity for overseas travel for many families. But for divorced or separated parents travelling with children, an international holiday may take special preparations. The lurking fear, of course, is that a parent may take children beyond the reach of the Australian courts and then fail to return with them. Rational or not, the fear of international abduction has to be addressed, so some step-by-step planning is in order. FUNDAMENTAL RULE A parent should always obtain written consent of the other before taking children for an international holiday. If a parenting order is in force or if court proceedings are pending, it is a crime to remove children from Australia without consent or a court order. The penalties include jail time. SUNSHINE ALL AROUND CHECK-IN WRITTEN CONSENT WRITTEN CONSENT The children do not have passports PASSPORT MISSING 1 Your former or estranged spouse will have to sign the passport application. PASSPORT APPLICATION 2 If he or she refuses, Family Dispute Resolution may offer an avenue for working things out. PASSPORT APPLICATION 3 Failing that, you must file an applica- tion with the Family Court for an order that either waives the signature requirement or directs the other parent to sign. This process must be begun well in advance of your travel dates to ensure a timely hearing. PASSPORT APPLICATION OUTCOME 1: Waives the signature requirement PASSPORT APPLICATION OUTCOME 2: directs the other parent to sign You may be good to go if you and your ex: get along famously, and the children already have passports, and there are no proceedings pending, and no parenting order is in place or there is one that specifically outlines the conditions for overseas travel, with which your trip will comply. For your own legal protection, it may be wise, even when not required, to get advance written consent. Travel plans in conflict with an existing order Even if an existing parenting order would ordinarily permit international travel, parents may find their plans running afoul of agreements about the sharing of holiday time. As with a passport dispute, the first step might be to work through FDR and thereafter to seek a modification of the existing order. But this may take several months, and so should be begun early. Courts tend to deal quite firmly with deliberate violations of parenting orders. Travelling overseas over the long holidays may provide an important opportunity for children to find and buildties with extended family. But for divorced or sepa- rated parents, the trip will take some additional advance planning. The Family Court will consider: how long you intend to stay outside the jurisdiction the bona fides of the application; whether the destination country is signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction; any threats to the children’s welfare in the proposed overseas environment; and how satisfied the Court is that your promise to return to Australia will be honoured. If the Court grants the application, you may be on your way to the passport office. Alternatively, the Court may impose certain requirements, such as the posting of financial security, to ensure that you will return as promised. APPLICATION GRANTED PASSPORT OFFICE At Owen Hodge Lawyers, we look forward to helping you and your family with any issues you may have with overseas holiday travel with children. Please call us to schedule a consultation at 1800 780 770. CONTACT US TODAY

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