All Aboard – Or not!

All Aboard – Or not! CBC Lawyers

When one parent isn’t on board with a child’s Passport Application.

With airfares to popular family destinations such as Fiji, Bali and Japan costing less than a flight to Brisbane (thanks Jetstar!) we can get a little impulsive. It is not surprising that the Mums and Dads of Australia are looking overseas for somewhere to relax, after the stress of a relationship breakdown.

But what if your child doesn’t have a Passport?

Unless there is a Court Order from the Federal Circuit Court of Australia or the Family Court of Australia, granting one parent sole parental responsibility of the child or children, then both parent’s consent is required for the issuing of a child’s Passport. Though this seems straightforward, it can be problematic in circumstances. Especially if there are no Court Orders in place and one parent is refusing to consent to the Application for a Passport.

The Federal Court of Australia has confirmed that parents should not commit to travelling overseas with their children without first obtaining the consent of the other parent.

So, what do you do if the other parent won’t consent?

Your first step should always be to speak with the other parent directly provided you feel safe in doing so.  Some practical tips to consider when asking for the other parent’s consent include;

  1. Return – Booking a return ticket will provide some assurance you will be returning home.
  2. Contact – Establish a form of contact between the children and the parent at home such as telephone or Skype contact. There are also a number of apps available such as Viber and WhatsApp specifically designed to allow you to easily communicate with family back home.
  3. Planning – Provide the other parent with a copy of your itinerary to alleviate any concerns about where the children will be travelling and what they will be doing on the holiday.

If the other parent is unwilling to consent to the Application you may be able to apply for special consideration to have the application granted. The Australian Passports Act 2005 provides that special circumstances include:

  1. It is not possible to contact the other parent within a reasonable period of time to obtain their consent;
  2. The child is required to travel urgently due to a family crisis; and
  3. The child’s welfare would be adversely affected by being prevented from travelling internationally.

There is no guarantee, however, that the Application will be successful. It is a discretionary process or that the application fee will be refunded. If no special circumstances exist and the other parent withholds their consent the only other way to obtain a Passport is by order of the Court.

If you are concerned about your child’s Passport Application, we recommend you contact one of our experienced Family Law Specialists  to obtain legal advice on this issue.