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Children’s Issues – Abduction / Relocation / Passport

It’s not uncommon for a former partner or spouse to move away and relocate after separation. Complications can arise when children are involved, as relocation may limit the time your child is able to spend with a parent or other significant person in their life. In some cases, the child can become caught up in abduction, relocation and passport issues requiring dedicated and professional legal intervention.

What should you consider before taking a child overseas?

In all cases, the number one priority should be the welfare of your child or children. It’s advisable to discuss the issue with your former partner prior to relocation to ensure you both remain on the same page. For example, satisfactory outcomes may be as easy as altering your parenting plan to accommodate longer visits during school holidays.

The situation can become complex when one party decides to relocate overseas, with a lot to consider, such as:

  • The child’s age
  • Educational requirements
  • Safety and security issues
  • Accommodation and transport
  • Medical or special needs
  • Cultural sensitivity and language difficulties
  • The role of both parents in the child’s upbringing
  • The child’s own preferences and views regarding the arrangements

If possible, it’s in the best interest of everyone to enter into a written ‘parenting plan’ or obtain a legally binding ‘parenting order’ to safeguard the health and wellbeing of your children. Taylor & Scott Family Law experts can guide you through the process and get the best deal to protect your interests.

What happens when one parent relocates overseas?

If you or your former partner intends to relocate overseas you should advise the other parent or guardian of your intentions as early as possible. This can be part of an agreed-upon parenting plan or consent order. Details of travel, overseas addresses and contact numbers should be provided.

In some cases, a child is relocated overseas without consent. International laws can be difficult to negotiate, and if your former partner refuses to allow your child to return to Australia, contact Taylor & Scott Lawyers for appropriate and decisive advice. You should also contact the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department for further clarification and assistance.

Family Law Success - Childrens views important

What is the process in the case of child abduction?

Although international laws in relation to family matters vary, Australia has agreements in place with some countries. The agreement, called the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Hague Convention”), gives you power to enforce a ‘recovery order’ for safe return of your abducted child or children to their usual country of residence.

Family dispute matters have a tendency to escalate quickly, so your comprehensive and confidential consultation with a Taylor & Scott Family Lawyer is advisable at the outset. The Hague Convention, although comprehensive, has limitations that include:

  • It only applies between countries that are signatories to the convention.
  • It only applies in situations where the child is less than 16 years old.
  • The child needs to have normally resided in a contracted convention state directly prior to the breach of custody, access or relocation.

The judicial officer in charge of hearing a Hague matter can also assist both parties by participation in the dispute resolution process, along with providing guidance in general parenting matters.

What happens if a parent won’t consent to the issuing of a passport?

There may be justifiable concerns regarding the issuing of a passport in some instances. For example, one parent may be planning to relocate with the child to another country, with no intention of returning to Australia. In other situations, reluctance to sign a passport application form is more about control rather than care, and action needs to be taken.

The easiest course is to consult with Taylor & Scott Lawyers who can act on your behalf in negotiations with your former spouse or partner. Our mediation experts are second-to-none, and act with empathy, consideration and courtesy toward all concerned parties. We can establish a workable parenting plan or assist with the forming of binding parenting orders to ensure your interests and those of your child are satisfied.

If negotiations between partners reach a stalemate, Taylor & Scott Lawyers will guide you through the appropriate steps, including the submission of a B-9 application form for a child travel document such as a passport where you have court orders in place already providing you parental responsibility. If this step is unsuccessful, Taylor & Scott can assist your presentation to obtain a court order for a passport. We understand the sensitive nature of family issues and the effect they have on children and parents, and will leave no stone unturned in achieving the best possible outcomes for you and your family.

At Taylor & Scott, ‘We Care For You’.