In most cases, a child can obtain a passport to travel overseas only if both parents consent
If you want to travel overseas with your child after a divorce or separation, you will need to take certain steps. This article will help you understand your obligations.
Get your child a passport
Like every other Australian citizen, your child needs a passport to travel overseas. Even newborn infants require a passport to travel outside Australia.
To obtain a passport, you will need to provide your child’s birth certificate to establish your child’s identity and nationality. If your child were not born in Australia, you would need to provide proof that your child is an Australian citizen.
In most instances, both parents need to sign the passport application. That is true even if a Family Law Court has entered an order that gives full parental responsibility to one parent.
The requirement that both parents consent to the issuance of a passport protects children from being abducted by one parent and protects the rights of parents to see their children. A parent who does not have parental responsibility may still have the right to spend time with the child. Removing the child from the country could prevent a parent from exercising that right.
The passport office can issue a passport for a child without the consent of both parents if it determines that special circumstances exist. Special circumstances include:
- Only the mother’s name appears on the child’s birth certificate, and the child’s paternity has not been established.
- A Family Law Court has issued an order that allows the child to travel with a parent internationally without the other parent’s consent.
Other special circumstances are determined by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. They include:
- The child’s welfare would be adversely affected by preventing the child from travelling internationally (for example, the child needs medical care that is unavailable in Australia).
- The child has an urgent need to travel internationally because of a family crisis.
- It is not possible to contact the other parent within a reasonable period.
It is not easy to persuade the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue a passport without the consent of both parents. When parents simply disagree about the need for a passport, the Minister will ordinarily view the dispute as one that should be decided by a court.
If special circumstances do not exist, you can apply to the court for an order directing that a passport is issued for your child despite the other parent’s objection. The court will need to decide whether issuance of a passport is in the child’s best interests after considering the positions of both parents.
In most cases, you will be required to attempt to resolve the dispute using mediation before the court will consider your application.
If your child has a passport and the other parent has abducted the child, you can apply to the Australian Federal Police for a PACE Alert to prevent your child will be taken out of the country. A PACE Alert will notify the airlines to watch for your child so that the police can be notified of an attempt to remove your child from the country.
The Federal Police will only issue a PACE Alert under limited circumstances. You should first pursue remedies for the abduction from a Family Law Court, including a court order that authorizes the PACE Alert.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.