Overseas Parenting Matters

29 Aug 2012 - Overseas Matters 

Overseas and far away: PACE, Passports and Hague

In our practice, we often have to deal with children’s’ issues on a global scale. Here, we briefly look at:

  1. Passports for children;
  2. Going on holiday’s overseas;
  3. PACE alerts;
  4. The Hague Convention.


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:

  1. A statement in which you state why the necessary consent has not and cannot be obtained, and explain the special circumstances relevant to the application; and
  2. The child’s full birth certificate; and
  3. The originals of all Court Orders affecting parental responsibility for the child.

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:

  1. What happened with the administrative process for seeking a Passport/why the administrative process was not appropriate;
  2. Address the relevant factors under Part VII of the Family Law Act.

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:

  1. There is a specific Order that allows for overseas travel;
  2. You have the express written permission of the other party.

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:

  1. The length of the proposed stay;
  2. The truthfulness of your Application;
  3. The effect of the child by depriving them of time with the other parent;
  4. Any threat to the welfare of the child;
  5. Any other relevant factors under Part VII of the Act.

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:

  1. Obtain a Court Order preventing the removal of the child from Australia;
  2. You can provide a copy of this Order to the Australian Federal Police and they can put the children on the watch list on your behalf. This must be renewed every 6 months in order to remain effective.
  3. You can make an urgent application to the Court which restrains the child from leaving Australia, the child’s name placed on the Airport watch list. You will need to provide the AFP with a copy of the sealed Application and Court Order in order for them to carry out the PACE alert.

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:

  1. Report the child as missing to your local police station;
  2. Contact the Australian Federal Police to request airport arrival/departure information;
  3. Contact the international child abduction line on 1800 100 480.

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.


4 responses to “Overseas Parenting Matters”

  1. Julie says:

    We are an Australian family living in the U.K. We are having difficulties with our 2 children and are sending our eldest to live with his grandparents back in Queensland for 12 months. How do we go about giving guardianship to our parents so they can enrol our son in school and seek medical care without any legal hassles? Are we able to complete any necessary forms here in the U.K?

    Many Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    • Bryan says:

      Hi Julie,

      You could have Consent Orders so that the grand parents have “guardianship” over the children for a limited period. The process is a bit complicated and can cost anywhere between $1500 and $2500 (plus GST). It involves applying to the court for Consent Orders. The Court would normally approve them. If you are overseas, you would need to sign documents in the presence of a notary public (because you are overseas). It is not simply a matter of filling in a form.

      Hope this helps. Let me know if we can assist further.


      Bryan Galvin

  2. Andrew says:

    Dear Sir’s
    I am writing to you in order that you may be able to give me some advice as to a situation that I have and let me know if it is something that you can assist with.
    In the spring of 2012 my ex-partner got engaged to a man who is English but has Australian citizenship and lives in Australia (Scarborough Brisbane). Shortly after announcing her engagement she announced that she would like to move to Australia with our 3 children to be with her future husband. It took a lot for me to sign the parental consent papers allowing the children to go but I did believe that they would have a better standard of outdoor life in Australia than they would have in the UK and more prospects for them.
    Before is signed the consent forms allowing the children to go it was agreed by their mother that she would bring them back to see me twice a year as well as allowing me access to my children whenever I had the opportunity of visiting Australia. Whilst in the UK I was paying regular monthly maintenance payments to their mother but my lawyer advised that if they she took the children to Australia then I would not be expected to pay maintenance any more as I am not responsible for the costs of her life changes and that any maintenance I was currently paying should be offset against the costs of travelling to Australia twice per yr to visit the children. This was agreed by my ex partner.
    They were due to leave at the end of summer 2012 however my oldest daughter Olivia required major back surgery and they were unable to go. It was agreed by their mother that they would not leave until the end of summer 2013 as the surgeons needed to give Olivia the all clear to fly (appointment April) and the children were going to be attending my wedding in June (2013) we had also planned, with the permission of their mother, to take them away on holiday after the wedding so that we could spend some quality time with them prior to them moving away.
    On the 27th of February however, after trying constantly for 4 days to contact them, I received an email from the children’s mother stating that they had left and that the children had landed in Brisbane to start their new lives. The children were taken out of the UK without my knowledge and I was purposely denied any access for four days prior to them leaving the UK. All phones, internet and mobile devices where disconnected so that the children could not contact me to let me know what was happening. I was never given the right to even say goodbye to them.
    Since her “moon light flit” I have had a number of insulting and demanding emails from her new husband making it very clear that they will not allow me to see my children, or have access via Skype etc unless I pay for private schooling for all 3 of them or unless I continue to make the same maintenance payments as I was making whilst the children were still in the UK. Despite what the lawyers views were and despite the fact that they had already agreed this would be wavered prior to me signing the consent forms they are now hounding me for cash knowing that it is a financial impossibility for me to continue to make maintenance payments as well as save for the monies needed just to be able to visit my kids.
    They are also refusing to bring the children back for my wedding unless I pay for the flights and it is my belief that they are purposely doing whatever they can to deny me a relationship with my children.
    I have always been a very “hands on” dad and my children have always been a big part of my life and now I feel that I have been lied to and deceived just so that I would sign the consent form giving permission for them to go. Now that they have gone and are in Australia I do believe that they see me as an inconvenience and that they are doing whatever they can to keep me away from my children. I am fearfull that they will not be brought back as agreed and that I will not be allowed access.
    As I am in the UK I would like to know what the Australian authorities and legal system can do for me to enable me to gain access to my children and enforce that their mother bring them back to visit me twice a year as agreed as I cannot afford to fly to Australia.
    I am also struggling to contact my children on a day to day basis as there are always excuses from their mother that there are problems with the phone in their new house.

    • Bryan says:

      Dear Sir,

      I thank you for your query, what a terrible situation to find yourself in.

      Article 21 of the Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague convention) states deals with access to children taken overseas
      The Central Authorities are bound by the obligations of co-operation which are set forth in Article 7 to promote the peaceful enjoyment of access rights and the fulfilment of any conditions to which the exercise of those rights may be subject. The Central Authorities shall take steps to remove, as far as possible, all obstacles to the exercise of such rights.

      The Central Authorities, either directly or through intermediaries, may initiate or assist in the institution of proceedings with a view to organising or protecting these rights and securing respect for the conditions to which the exercise of these rights may be subject.

      You can contact the Central Authority for England as follows:

      The International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU)
      Official Solicitor and Public Trustee
      4th Floor
      81 Chancery Lane
      United Kingdom
      numéros de téléphone/telephone numbers: +44 (207) 911-7045 or +44 (207) 911-7047 (renseignements/enquiries)
      numéro de télécopie/telefax number: +44 (207) 911-7248
      Email: osenquiries@offsol.gsi.gov.uk
      Internet: http://www.direct.gov.uk (public) / http://www.justice.gov.uk (professionals)

      Persons to contact:

      Miss Victoria DAMRELL
      tel.: +44 (207) 911 7047
      email: victoria.damrell@offsol.gsi.gov.uk

      Ms Margaret SOBOYEJO
      tel.: +44 (207) 911 7211
      email: margaret.soboyejo@offsol.gsi.gov.uk

      It is probably best to speak to the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit first, to see if they can help you sort out having contact with your children. If you need any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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