In our practice, we often have to deal with children’s’ issues on a global scale. Here, we briefly look at:
It is a requirement that, before a Passport is issued to a child, the written consent of all people with parental responsibility is required. If you are in a position to do so, try and speak to the other party directly first about signing an Application for a Passport. The passport Application can be located online here.
If that isn’t successful, and assuming that you have no Court Orders in place, you can then make a request in writing for ‘special circumstances’ to a Senior Officer from the Department of Foreign Affairs who will then consider it. In such cases, your application must be accompanied by:
There are some exceptions to making this request and, in this case, you are then able to bring an Application to Court seeking that a Registrar of the Court sign the Passport application on behalf of the other party. In your Application and supporting Affidavit, you must address:
You must also serve a copy of your application after it has been filed on the other party to prove service.
Don’t forget to think about who should hold the Passports when they aren’t being used. If you have concerns, they can always be held in a security deposit box with both parties having to jointly sign to remove them.
So, you’ve got your child’s Passport and you are ready to go? Not quite. Before you go, you need to remember:
If you have parenting proceedings on foot or a parenting Order in place, you cannot take your child from the jurisdiction unless:
If the other party does not agree to the child travelling overseas, you can bring an Application to Court to seek overseas travel. If you do so, you must be able to show to the Court:
As a matter of course, we always ask our client’s whether there is a need for an overseas travel clause so you don’t have to deal with this issue later. Make sure you advise your Solicitor even if overseas travel isn’t on the horizon at the moment.
What do you do if the shoe is on the other foot? What do you do if you have fears that the other party will remove the children from the jurisdiction?
If you think the other party will be applying for a Passport to take the children out of the country, you can make a child alert request. This can be found here.
A Child Alert Request warns the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that there may be circumstances preventing the issue of an Australian Passport or other travel document to the child named on the form. It does not, however, stop a party from travelling if there is already a current Passport for the children.
If you are concerned that your child may be taken out of the jurisdiction you can:
However, don’t forget that, once the child’s name is on the alert, you must apply for the alert to be lifted otherwise the children will not be able to leave the Country, irrespective of who they are travelling with. A helpful Family Court brochure in relation to this can be found here.
If you think that your client has already been removed from the jurisdiction, there are a couple of steps you can take:
Australiais a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil aspects of international child abduction.The Hague Convention is an international treaty that tries to ensure children who are wrongfully retained in another Hague country can be returned quickly. You can find a list of Hague convention countries here.
If you have retained the children in Australia and an Application has been brought against you for their return, you should definitely seek legal advice. Always seek the advice of a Family Law specialist or specialist firm – defending Hague proceedings can become very complicated.