Travelling with Children from Separated Families

As the summer holiday period approaches, many families are beginning to plan their travel. However, when it comes to traveling with children from a separated family, there are additional considerations and planning required. Whether it’s interstate or overseas travel, it’s important to be aware of the legal implications and ensure that all necessary permissions are obtained.

Interstate Travel

If you are planning to travel within your country, it is crucial to understand the arrangements in place for your children. If you are bound by court orders, there may be restrictions on travel without the other parent’s consent. It is essential to communicate and obtain their consent to avoid breaching court orders.

Family Travel

Overseas Travel

Many parents want to provide their children with the opportunity to see the world. However, if there is a parenting order in place or an order pending, it is a criminal offense to remove a child from Australia without written consent from the other parent or a court order. Some countries, such as South Africa, also require specific court authorization or consent from the other parent for travel with a child. It is advisable to make inquiries with the intended country of travel regarding any requirements they may have.

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Children Traveling


For single parents planning to travel, it is crucial to provide notice to the other parent and obtain their consent. This allows both parties to discuss and make informed decisions. If the other parent refuses consent, you may need to apply to the Family Law Courts for approval. Generally, the courts will permit overseas travel as long as the child’s return to Australia is ensured, and appropriate arrangements, including make-up time with the other parent, are made.


Obtaining a passport for your child may be the first hurdle you encounter. Passport application requirements for children are strict, and both parents must sign the application. If one parent refuses to sign, you will need to seek a court order for the passport to be issued, which can be time-consuming. It is important to explain your travel arrangements and attempts to obtain the other parent’s signature to the court.

Australian Federal Police Watch List

In cases where one parent has concerns about their child’s travel, they can apply to the Family Law Court to have the child placed on the Australian Federal Police Watch List. Placing a child on the Watch List requires a court order and prevents the child from leaving Australia through any port of exit. The only way to remove a child from the Watch List is through written consent from both parents or a court order.


Q: What if I do not want my child to travel overseas?
A: If you wish to restrict your child’s travel overseas, you can refuse to sign the passport application, withhold the child’s passport, or apply to the Family Law Courts to have the child placed on the Australian Federal Police Watch List.

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Q: How can I surrender my child’s passport or place them on the Watch List?
A: You can make an application under s.67ZD of the Family Law Act to surrender your child’s passport or apply for the child to be placed on the Watch List. If there is an imminent departure, this process can occur quickly.


While overseas travel can be highly beneficial for children, it is essential to find a balance between their safety and the opportunities to explore the world. Providing proper notice, communicating openly, obtaining necessary permissions, and complying with court orders are crucial steps in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable travel experience for both parents and children.

For more information on family travel, visit iBlog.

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