Family Law Blog

Ready to depart? Think again. International Travel where Court Orders are in place

Posted by Nicole Pearce on 19 Dec 2018

With end of year holidays now fast approaching, temptations surrounding international travel are starting to become increasingly attractive.  For the majority of our readers, the purchasing of tickets and the organisation of relevant accommodation may get pushed to the top of the to-do list - however for many parents, it is crucial to take into consideration whether or not there are court orders in place that might stand in the way of such travel plans, if these plans are set to include your children.

If court orders have indeed been made, it is important to check whether there is an Airport Watchlist Order in place that might prevent you from taking your children on an international trip.  If an order has been made, the Australian Federal Police are provided with a copy of the order, and the children's names are placed on a list preventing them from leaving the Commonwealth of Australia.

It is not uncommon for an Airport Watchlist Order to be made when the children are still relatively young, and the parties to the relationship breakdown are going through the early stages of separation.  There have been matters where it wasn't until some years post-separation that one of the parties sought to to take their children overseas, and where they were subsequently stopped from leaving at a point of international departure.

These types of situations are likely to see affected parties racing off to what would undoubtedly be an already busy Family Court in order to seek an urgent order for their children to be removed from the Airport Watchlist in an attempt to salvage an already booked trip.

If you are uncertain as to whether your children are on the Airport Watchlist, Coleman Greig urges you to make the relevant enquires well in advance prior to making plans for an overseas holiday (that is, if you are looking to take your children with you).  

Click here for a downloadable version of the Family Law Watchlist Enquiry Form.

To remove a child from the Airport Watchlist, the Australian Federal Police require an order from the Family Court.  An application can be made either by consent, or by one party initiating proceedings if it is not possible for consent to be obtained.

It is important to understand that where court orders are in place for children (regardless of whether an Airport Watchlist Order is in force), the Family Law Act states that in order to travel overseas with your children, you must first obtain the other parties' written consent.

If you have a query relating to any of the information in this article, or you would like to speak with a lawyer in Coleman Greig's Family Law team with regard to international travel and the options available to you, please don't hesitate to get in contact: