Family traveling

Travelling Overseas with Kids

Travelling overseas with your child post separation/ divorce?

When your relationship fails to end amicably and you just cannot seem to reach any kind of agreement with your former partner, broaching the subject of overseas travel can be difficult. So what rights do you have as a parent after divorce or separation?

Am I allowed to apply for a passport for my child if I want to take them overseas?

Unless the court has awarded you sole parental responsibility you cannot unilaterally make a passport application for your child without the written consent of the other parent and/or any other person who has been awarded parental responsibility of the child.
The only exception to this is if you make a written request to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for the application to be considered on the basis of ‘special circumstances’. This might include situations such as the unknown whereabouts of the non-consenting parent or an absence of contact between the child and the non-consenting period for a substantial period of time.

** It should be noted that where court orders have been made in relation to the applicant child, these orders will need to be provided with the passport application before the application will be considered.

If you are concerned that your former partner may apply for a passport for your child without your consent, you can lodge a Child Alert Request at any Australia Passport office or apply to the court for a Child Alert Order. A Child Alert order notifies DFAT that your former spouse might attempt to apply for a passport without the proper consent. If an alert is in place and your former partner does attempt to apply for a passport for the child then DFAT will notify you.

What if my child already has a passport, can I take them on an overseas holiday?

The answer to this question depends on a few variables; first of all, are there court orders in place?

If court orders are in place or court proceedings are underway then written consent must be obtained from all parties with parental responsibility before a child can legally leave the country. If a parent removes a child from the country without the permission of all parties with parental responsibility they will have committed a criminal offence and face a term of imprisonment.


This does not mean that you simply cannot travel with your child outside of Australia without the other parent consenting. In certain circumstances you can actually make an application to the court to permit you to travel overseas with the child. The court will consider many factors and your application will need to provide specific details as to the purpose of your intended travel including a travel itinerary and you may even be required to provide a monetary sum as security before the court will consider your application.

What if I am scared that my former partner will take our child overseas without my permission?

If you have genuine concerns that your child may be taken out of the country without your permission we encourage you to call and make an appointment to see one of our dedicated family lawyers as soon as possible. We can help to have your child placed on the Australian Federal Police Family Law Airport Watch List as well as commence your application to the court for orders that:

  • Require your child’s passport to be surrendered to the court;
  • Prevent your child from being issued with a passport; and/ or
  • Prevent your child from being able to leave Australia.