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During child custody proceedings, parents cannot remove their children from Australia without either:

  1. The written consent of the other party, or
  2. A Court Order providing for overseas travel.

The most cost efficient way to take your children on an overseas trip is generally to negotiate with your former partner to obtain their consent and then put this into writing.

If you cannot come to an agreement, you may be able to make an application to the Family Court with the assistance of your child custody lawyers. Ultimately, the Court will make its child custody decisions in the best interests of the child. The Court may make an Order for the child not to travel overseas, or make an Order allowing the child to travel. In some circumstances the Court may make an Order for you or your former partner to pay a security if the child is allowed to travel to better ensure the child’s return.

In making its decision on whether the child can go on an overseas trip, the Court can consider the following:

(a) The length of the trip;

(b) The bona fides of the application;

(c) The effect on the child of not seeing the other parent for a period;

(d) Any threats to the welfare of the child by the circumstances of the proposed environment;

(e) Whether the Court is satisfied that a promise of a return to the jurisdiction would be honoured.

If you are concerned that your child will not be returned to Australia, you may consider placing the child on the Airport watchlist. It is important to seek legal advice regarding the ramifications of making an Airport Watchlist application as it can be difficult to remove children from the list.

For more information, visit our page on Parenting and Custody Disputes.

For advice about Child Custody Proceedings contact us on 1800 300 170 or email us at

Family law situations can be complex and sometimes they can involve serious issues.  Information outlined is proposed to provide general guidance only. Due to the seriousness of legal matters as well as the uniqueness of your individual situation, professional advice should be sought. For advice, please contact one of our Family Lawyers.