I am separated. Can my ex-partner / spouse relocate my child overseas without my permission?
Are you concerned that your child may be illegally removed from Australia?
Do you have concerns that your child may not return to your care after that international holiday with your ex-spouse or ex-partner?
If any of the above is relevant to you, we recommend that you obtain a Court Order to prevent your child from leaving Australia.
Family Law Watchlist
The Family Law Watchlist (previously known as Airport Watchlist) is a register kept by the Australian Federal Police to prevent any unauthorised removal of your child to stop your ex-partner removing your child from Australia.
How do I obtain a Family Law Watchlist order?
You may apply to the Federal Circuit Court to prevent your child from leaving Australia. This application is directed to the person who intends to remove the child from Australia.
Generally, these types of Orders are made in urgent circumstances and can be made ex parte (where orders are made in the absence of the other party).
The order will require your child to be placed on the Family Law Watchlist. This means that removing your child overseas is a breach of the Court Order.
Will the Family Law Watchlist apply if I intend to take my child overseas?
Even if you have made the application to the Court to limit or prevent your child’s overseas travel, your child is still restricted from travelling internationally, even in your care. This means that a genuine international holiday with your child, whilst the Family Law Watchlist is in place, may result in you being in contempt of the Court.
In the event that you wish to travel overseas, you will require a Court Order to remove your child's name from the Family Law Watchlist. This could be via consent with the other parent or by a Court application.
Does the Family Law Watchlist expire?
We recommend that you place a “sunset clause”, a date when you would like a Family Law Watchlist to expire on your application. This is to prevent any unwanted incidents during any genuine international holidays that the child may wish to take himself / herself.
It is possible to place a PACE alert for your child with the Passport office to prevent a passport being issued for your child. Information about PACE alerts can be found through the Passport Office here.
What if my child is already taken overseas?
You may apply for a order under The Hague Convention directing the Authorities to locate and deliver the child to the nominated person on the Order (generally, it is the person who applied for the Court Order).
An Application under the Hague Convention must be made within 12 months.
Making a Family Law Watchlist application can be a stressful process. We are ready to assist you through this process. Call Natalie Fielding, our Accredited Family Law Specialist today on (03) 9629 9629 or email us.
Read more in our Family Law FAQ section.