Travelling overseas with a child can get a little bit more complicated following a separation, especially when parents are in the process of making arrangements through family law proceedings before the Courts.
Before making any travel arrangements, including arranging documents like passports and visas, booking flights and accommodation or making travel plans, parents should secure the consent of the other parent. If no consent is given, parents should get an order from the court for permission to travel.
Travelling overseas with a child without and order or consent from the other parent is considered a punishable offence in Australia and can result in up to three years of prison time.
How to proceed when you want to travel
So what should you do if you wish to travel overseas with your child? First consider securing the services of a lawyer specialising in family law matters, they will be able to guide you through the process of separation and divorce. Separations can be messy, especially when children are involved. A good lawyer will be able to help you through the entire process, from agreeing to custody arrangements, settling financial matters, dividing assets or agreeing on matters such as travel arrangements for children.
Your lawyer will work with you to negotiate interim arrangements with your ex-partner whilst matters are settled in court. If you’d prefer a quicker resolution around the question of travel arrangements they can help you find a peaceful resolution with your partner, and seek consent outside of the court room, or they can help you get a more formal agreement in place in the court room.
When travelling, parents should ensure that they do their best to be as open and honest with their former spouse as possible. Travelling as a single parent can understandably create anxiety on both sides. Parents should be prepared to negotiate on travel arrangements, whether it be the length of the trip, distance, accommodation arrangements or other details of the trip, parents should be as up front as possible about their plans. If consent is given, parents should communicate with the other parent and ensure the itinerary, contact details and accommodation details are communicated to the other parents.
Regular telephone contact, skype calls or messages will keep the lines of communication open and help the other parent to feel in the loop. Good communication during travel helps with successful co-parenting and will make trips overseas or interstate easier for both parents in the future.
Heading to court
If you can’t come to an agreement or secure consent from another parent outside of the court room then you may want to consider talking to a specialist family lawyer about the process to secure a court order. They will be able to provide you with specialist family law advice before you make your travel arrangements and can help you with securing an order so that you can proceed with your holiday or travel plans with peace of mind.
You should never speak to your child about plan before securing consent, there is nothing more devastating for a child than having hopes and excitement for an upcoming trip or holiday dashed when being stopped at the airport for being on a No fly watch list if there is an order in place.
Divorce and separation are devastating but they don’t have to negatively impact your childs holiday memories. Open honest communication, or calm court proceedings can have you on your way to enjoying a trip away with your child and set you up for future civil co-parenting arrangements with your ex-spouse. Seek out a specialist family lawyer and obtain legal advice if you’re considering travelling with your child.