Travel with the kids at Christmas & family law

27 Nov, 2015

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Making arrangements for kids over the end of year school holiday period is a big deal. You need to book annual leave, organise travel during peak periods and often add Christmas plans with extended family into the mix. For separated parents, this can lead to disagreements, resentment and even financial loss if plans are changed. If you are entering into Court Orders or a Parenting Plan, the arrangements for interstate or overseas travel and passports should be considered. Otherwise separated parents can be unsure about their rights and obligations with respect to these issues.

Can I take the Kids for a trip to the Gold Coast without consent?

If there are no Parenting Plans or Court Orders in place which require you to obtain consent or advise the other parent about interstate travel you are not strictly required to obtain the other parent's consent. However your co-parenting relationship when you return from the holiday is likely to be compromised if you don’t and the kids are likely to let the other parent know what a good time they had! We suggest that even without a legal obligation to do so, you keep the other parent informed as to your plans and provide some contact details.

How about a trip with the Kids to Bali without consent?

Section 65Y of the Family Law Act provides that if a Parenting Order is in place, even one that does not relate to travel, you must obtain the written consent of the other parent or guardian prior to removing a child overseas. If there are no Court Orders or a Parenting Plan in place you are not strictly required to obtain the other parent's consent before travelling overseas with your kids. However you will not get very far without the kids having a current passport. You are required to obtain the other parent's consent to have a passport issued for your kids except in very rare circumstances. It is also a good idea to check with the Consulate or Embassy of the country where you are travelling to see whether there are any requirements they have for travelling with children. For example, they may require the written consent of the other parent to leave their Country even if there are no Orders in place.

What can I do to ensure my travel plans are not derailed by the Ex?

The most safe and practical thing to do is to obtain the other parent's written permission for your travel before you finalise and pay for your trip. If there is no agreement you can file an Application with the Family Law Courts but this process can take a number of months and is likely to be costly. There is also no guarantee you will be successful at Court. The Court will consider your plans, past history of travel and ties to Australia, the safety of the Country you are going to and the likelihood of your return. If you have to go to Court, a Bond may also be required to be paid to ensure your return with the kids.

The Court will consider these applications individually and must ensure that any proposed travel is in the child’s best interests. Unfortunately sometimes separated parents take children out of Australia without the consent of the other parent and have no intention to return. Australia has ratified the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction and the Family Law Courts have wide ranging powers including even Ordering that a plane land after take-off to search for and recover a child.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding organising travel with your kids with your separated co-parent, you should get some legal advice from an Accredited Specialist in Family Law. Yeend & Associates Family Lawyers is the largest specialist Family Law Firm in Gungahlin and offers a free initial consultation with all new clients. We can advise you about all family law issues, help you negotiate agreements and formalise them or represent you in family law litigation. Yeend & Associates is now open for extended hours (7am until 7pm) on Wednesdays and offers fixed fee options for some family law matters.

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