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Government changes regarding child travel documents

By November 10, 2015No Comments

With Christmas holidays on the horizon, you may be planning overseas travel with your child.

If you are separated and obtaining a passport for your child will require consent from the other parent. Please be aware of changes that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has recently implemented in relation to issuing child travel documents.

The changes to the Australian Passports Action 2005 and the Australian Passports Determination Act 2015 are small but may well be significant to you, and we set them out below for your reference. If you are unsure of whether these changes may apply to you, please give our friendly lawyers and paralegal here at Alliance Family Law a call as soon as possible, so that we can advise you on any action you will need to take prior to any international travel. Remember that the courts get very, very busy in the lead up to Christmas, so the earlier action is taken, the better. The last thing you want is to turn up at an airport and be denied the right to leave Australia for a family holiday.

Australian Passports Action 2005 (Passports Act):
Changes to section 11

Section 11 has been amended to bring definitions in the Passports Act in alignment with those in the Family Law Act 1975.  Specifically, the wording has been amended to ensure that the definition of ‘parental responsibility’ provides more certainty as to who is legally required to give consent to the issuing of a child’s travel documents:

The amendments provide that persons who under a court order can ‘spend time with’ or have ‘access to’ a child, but do not otherwise have parental responsibility for the child, will no longer be required to consent to the child having an Australian travel document.

The amendments also change the focus of consent for a child travel document from consent to a ‘child traveling internationally’ to consent to a child ‘having an Australian travel document’.

Wording has also been changed in this section to clarify that it applies to all Australian travel documents and not just passports. Further, of relevance to those in Western Australia, section 11 now refers to the Family Court Act 1997 (WA) in addition to the Family Law Act 1975.

 Australian Passports Determination 2015 (Passports Determination Act):
Changes to section 10

There are sometimes special circumstances where an Australian travel document may be issued to a child without full consent or a court order and these are dealt with in section 10 of the Passports Determination Act.

Sometimes a parent may be able to be located but it is still not possible to contact them to obtain consent. As such paragraph 10(3)(a) has been amended to remove the word ‘locating’ from the special circumstance for situations where it is not possible to contact the non-consenting parent within a reasonable period of time.

In other cases a parent might be missing but has not been confirmed dead (ie. with a death certificate). To cater for such cases, paragraph 10(3)(b) has been amended to clarify that a non-consenting parent be missing and/or presumed dead (instead of missing and presumed dead).

In circumstances where a child lives outside Australia and the Minister considers there is a need for the child to remain residing legally overseas, a passport may occasionally be necessary to support the child’s continued lawful residence overseas. Therefore, paragraph 10(3)(h) has been amended to include such a circumstance. However, note this amendment is not intended to be used in cases where a child is subject to an abduction allegation.

Changes to section 20

To help protect kids from international parental child abduction, and to safeguard the rights of people who have parenting responsibility, section 20 of the Passports Determination Act has been amended. DFAT may disclose certain information relating to court orders or court proceedings.

For more information regarding passports for children, please see: https://www.passports.gov.au/web/newppt/applyingu18.aspx#consent

For more information regarding parental consent, please see: https://www.passports.gov.au/web/brochureswebpages/brochurechildenparentalconsent.aspx

For an explanation of travel documents other than passports, please see: https://www.passports.gov.au/web/travelrelateddocuments.aspx

Do you need help with obtaining consent from your ex-partner in relation to child travel documents? Please contact our experienced team of lawyers here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 as soon as possible for assistance.

 

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