On 21 February 2022, the International Borders opened for all overseas travellers who are fully vaccinated and have had two doses of a vaccine permitting entry into all States and Territories, except Western Australia who are due to re-open on 3 March 2022.
Whilst many Australians have been travelling freely on the East Coast since December 2021, the threat of a parent removing a child /children and travelling overseas has been reduced. Now that the international borders have re-opened this risk has again increased.
What can I do if I fear my child might be taken overseas without my consent?
The Family Law Act provides that it is a Commonwealth offence to remove a child from Australia if one of the following apply:
- There are parenting orders in place made by the Court (including by Consent) which limit or prevent whether a child can travel overseas;
- Where parenting orders on a final basis are yet to be made but where there are proceedings on foot in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia which are pending.
- Where there is a pending appeal regarding parenting orders that have been made.
If you are concerned that your child or children may be taken overseas, you may be eligible to place your child/children on the Family Law Watchlist (“airport watchlist”) maintained by the Australian Federal Police. The usual process to place a child/children on the airport watchlist is as follows:
- File an Application with the Court seeking that a child/children be placed on the airport watchlist;
- Send the Application to the Australian Federal Police (this must have the Court seal on it); and
- Once the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has made an Order for a child/ children to be placed on the airport watchlist the Court should send that Order to the Australian Federal Police.
What happens if my child is on the Airport Watchlist?
Once a child/children have been placed on the airport watchlist, the parents and any other related parties to parenting proceedings are usually prohibited from removing the child from the Commonwealth of Australia pending a resolution to the proceedings. The Court may include certain exceptions to travel and it is important to ensure you receive legal advice with respect to any watchlist order.
You can find out if your child is on the airport watchlist by completing a Family Law Watchlist Enquiry Form.
If you do not have any parenting orders in place and you are not currently in Court but are concerned a child may be taken overseas, we recommend you seek urgent legal advice.