Let’s be honest, moving or travelling with children can be testing at the best of times (but it’s oh so worth it for the memories created). Moving or travelling with children under a shared custody arrangement with an ex-partner can make things that little bit more complicated, however. Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions.
I’m thinking of moving to another suburb. Do I need permission from my child’s other parent or guardian?
Yes. If you are currently co-parenting under a custody agreement, a Consent Order or a Relocation Order is required to move with your child to another suburb, state or country under the Family Law Act.
Does the permission need to be in a formal document?
Yes. At Waters Lawyers, we recommend that you try to reach an agreement with the other parent before getting the Court formally involved. If the child lives primarily with you, the new arrangement could mean that the other parent spends more time with your child during school holidays or extended visits are arranged throughout the year. Even if you can agree on a plan together, this will need to be formally documented with a Consent Order and approved by the Court to avoid any disruptions in the future.
What happens if we cannot agree on an arrangement?
If you and the other parent cannot reach an amicable conclusion, we recommend attending Family Dispute Resolution. This provides a safe space for discussion between all involved parties to reach an outcome while still maintaining a degree of control over the situation. If you both cannot reach an amicable agreement following this, you can then apply to the Court for a Relocation Order. This places the power in the hands of the Court to consider your application and if your child should move with you.
The role of the Family Court is to always act in the best interests of the child, not the parents. When reaching a decision, the following will be considered:
- Whether a meaningful relationship with both parents can be developed and supported despite the move
- The child’s opinion on the matter (if they are old and mature enough to express a view)
- The attachment of the child to each parent and other significant people in their life, and the effect that separation from those people would have
- The expense involved in the child visiting each parent (for example, international flight costs)
- The willingness and ability of the parents to communicate and ensure the agreements would be met and maintained
- The effect of the changes on the child in terms of their schooling and friendships
- Any other criteria the Court believes to be relevant in each individual circumstance
What happens if I move without a Consent Order or Relocation Order?
Moving without a Consent Order or Relocation Order gives the Court permission to demand your return. You must stay at or near your previous residency while the Court considers the application.
Do I need permission to take my child on an overseas trip?
Yes, you will require permission from the other parent to take your child out of the country, even if it is on a non-permanent basis. To apply for an Australia passport, the written consent of each parent is required. If this cannot be obtained, you can request ‘special circumstances’ to be considered by the Approved Senior Officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
If this application is refused, you can then apply to the Court for an order that allows your child to join you overseas. Without the other parent’s consent however, the Court will only give permission for the child to travel if it is in the child’s best interest to do so.