Children, Overseas Travel and Family Law

  • September 27, 2019

Going through a relationship breakdown is tough on all parties involved, and especially upon young children. While an overseas holiday may seem like the perfect opportunity to briefly take your mind off stresses at home during this period, if you are planning on taking your child with you there are a number of things you need to first consider.

If you plan on travelling overseas with your child you will need to first seek the written consent of the other parent. Unless you already have a formal parenting plan or court orders in place identifying you as having sole parental responsibility for the child, you should presume that you both have responsibility for making all major decisions about that child. This includes overseas travel and holidays.

When discussing your travel plans with the other parent you should be clear about travel dates and locations, flight and accommodation details, contact details and expected return dates. Allowing the child to stay in contact with the other parent while overseas keeps both parents involved in the child’s life. This may also help relieve concerns the other parent may have about the trip, or any future trip.

If you are unable to reach an agreement with the other parent, you may need to seek court orders that specifically allow you to travel overseas with the children. This should be done with the assistance of a lawyer, and involves making an application to the court specifically setting out your travel plans.

Remember, if the child is the subject of family law parenting proceedings it is a criminal offence for you to take the child overseas without either the consent of the other parent or without having court orders in place.

My ex-partner is planning to take my child on an overseas holiday without my consent – what can I do?

If you have concerns about your ex-partner taking your children overseas, you should seek advice from your solicitor about seeking a ‘watch list order’. A watch list order involves making an application to the court, and operates to prevent the child leaving Australia via any airport or seaport. To seek this type of order you must have real concerns the child will either not be returned to Australia, or have a genuine reason for not consenting to the child travelling overseas with the other parent.

While there are potential options under various International Conventions to facilitate your child’s return to Australia, these paths are often complex and costly. If you have concerns about the other parent of your child taking them overseas, it is essential that that you act quickly to prevent them traveling in the first place.

If you have any questions about this article, require assistance with a family law parenting matter or are seeking further information, please do not hesitate to contact us at or on (02) 9525 8688.



Greg Dickson
B.Juris. LL.M.
CEO & Accredited Specialist in Family / De Facto Law
Telephone: 9525 8688
Facsimile: 9526 2608