Passports for Children – Disputes between Separated Parents

03/01/2017

When parents are separated issues can arise in relation to overseas travel.  A child under the age of 18 must have a passport to travel overseas.  An Australian Passport can only be issued to a child (a person under the age of 18 years) if both parents of that child (or other persons with parental responsibility) give their consent to the issue of Passport by signing the Passport Application.

Disputes often arise in relation to the issue of consent to issue a Passport particularly where one parent is concerned that the other parent may leave Australia and not return with the child.

If parents are cooperating the issue of a Passport can be done simply by both parents completing and signing the Passport Application and paying the fee.

If one party cannot or will not give their consent then there are two courses available:-

  1. The parent who is seeking the Passport and has had a refusal to consent from the other parent can make an Application to the Department of Foreign Affairs to request the Department that the Passport be issued.
  2. Alternatively an Application can be made to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (or the Family Court) for issue of a Passport.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has the ability to issue a Passport where there are special circumstances for example:-

  • The child’s physical or psychological welfare will be affected. 
  • Urgent need to travel for example because of a family crisis.
  • The non consenting parent is missing, uncontactable or medically incapable of giving consent.
  • Special circumstances arising out of family violence.

If an Application to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia is made then the Application will be made by:-

  1. Filing and serving an Initiating Application.
  2. Filing and serving an Affidavit setting out reasons for travel and why the Passport is needed, attempts made to obtain the consent of the other parent.

If you are if you are thinking of travelling abroad with your children and can forsee an issue with passports for your children, please do not hesitate to contact Richard Watson or Dennis Grant who can assist in resolving any passport issues you are faced with.

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