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Kids looking out the window at airport | Travelling with kids after divorce | Seton Family Lawyers Central Coast Lawyers

Can I take my kids on holidays after divorce?

Navigating the complexities of shared parenting arrangements after separation can be a challenging journey, and a common area of concern is understanding the laws around taking kids on holidays after divorce. This blog aims to assist parents in considering holidays with kids after separating from their partner. 

Interstate travel within Australia

When considering interstate travel with children from separated families, it’s important to be aware of existing court orders or agreements. These may dictate whether you need consent from the other parent before planning an interstate trip. Alternatively, it may simply be that the time your children spend with you pursuant to the orders or agreement is practically insufficient for interstate travel to take place – in that instance, again, you should seek the other parent’s consent to possibly varying the time arrangements to facilitate the trip. 

International travel 

Taking your child overseas after divorce requires careful consideration.  In Australia, you must generally get consent from anyone with parental responsibility for the child, or get a court order to let them travel. 

An application to either allow a child to travel internationally, or to prevent a child from leaving Australia, should be filed with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. If there are no ongoing proceedings, you should submit an Initiating Application (Family Law). If proceedings are already underway, you should file an Application in a Proceeding or amend your Initiating Application or Response. For more information, visit the Family Circuit and Family Court of Australia website. 

If a parenting order has been made about a child, or someone has applied for a parenting order, it is a criminal offence to take or send the child out of Australia unless:

  • Each party to the parenting order (or parenting proceedings) has given ‘authenticated written consent’ for the child to be removed from Australia (either generally or for specific dates and/or locations), or
  • A court has made a parenting order that specifically allows the child to be removed from Australia (either generally or for specific dates and/or locations).

If a child is taken or sent outside of Australia in accordance with authenticated written consent or a court order, it is an offence to retain the child overseas in any way not permitted by the consent or order. Examples include keeping the child overseas longer than allowed or taking the child to a place not specified in the consent or order.

Parents should be aware of the above restrictions on overseas travel contained in sections 65Y, 65YA, 65Z and 65ZAA of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) which, if breached, can lead to imprisonment for up to three years.

If you intend to travel internationally with your child and encounter disagreement from the other parent, or they refuse to sign a passport application, you may need to seek intervention from a court. 

When considering international travel with your child the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia takes into account several factors to determine whether to permit the child to travel: 

  • Duration of the stay outside Australia
  • Purpose of travel (eg holiday, visiting relatives) 
  • Impact on the child’s relationship with the other parent and proposed measures to mitigate the impact (for example, regular phone contact, and/or makeup time on return) 
  • Conditions and travel advisories for the destination country issued by the Australian Government

The court also evaluates your plans for ensuring the child’s return to Australia, considering factors such as your ties to Australia and any potential reasons that might indicate a risk of not returning. 

Planning for positive experiences on holidays after divorce

Despite the legal complexities, planning holidays post-divorce can still foster positive experiences and create new family memories. It is advisable for co-parents to engage in open communication regarding travel logistics, accommodation and supervision. Understanding and supporting each child’s needs, including medical or education requirements, ensures their safety and comfort throughout the trip. 

Legal guidance from experienced family lawyers is invaluable in navigating taking kids on holidays after divorce. They provide tailored advice based on individual circumstances, helping parents understand their rights and responsibilities.

Do you need help with divorce and parenting arrangements? 

Seton Family Lawyers are experienced and accredited family law specialists. Contact us today to book an appointment so we can help and guide you through your divorce and parenting arrangements. We settle 98% of cases outside of court and are conveniently located in Erina, NSW. Our Central Coast family law specialists can help achieve the best outcome for you and your family. 

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