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FAQs: Family Law & Relocation

The mother of my children advised me they are moving interstate and I’m concerned I won’t be able to see the children anymore.  Where do I stand in relation to her decision to move away with the children?

In Family Law, a parent cannot make the decision to move with the children to another geographical location if it would interfere with the other parent having a meaningful relationship with the children. If you do not agree to the children moving away, you should first discuss this with the other parent.

The other parent has already moved to Cairns and we were living on the Gold Coast at the time of separation. I did not know that they were going to move. Will they have to move back if I didn’t agree?

In short the answer to this question is “yes”, the other parent will have to return the children to living on the Gold Coast. However, there are strict time-frames and you will need to bring an application to the court urgently and usually within 3 months.  You should contact our office immediately if you are in this position.

But I don’t know the other parent’s address, what now?

If the whereabouts of the children is unknown the court can make orders to locate the children by ordering specific government departments to provide that information.

The other parent says we have to do mediation first and this will not be until next month. What happens, does that mean I can’t go to court?

No, you do not have to attend mediation in circumstances of urgency such as discovering the other parent moved away with the children. It’s perhaps a good time to point out that you should get your own legal advice and not rely on what the other parent is telling you they were advised.

12 months ago, the children and I moved to Newcastle from the Gold Coast due to my partner getting a transfer with his work. I don’t like it here and miss my family back on the Gold Coast. My partner and I separated after a big argument about six weeks ago, the lease is up at the end of the month and I want to move back to the Gold Coast. What is the right way to go about it?

You must get permission from your partner to move and you should get this in writing to be on the safe side.  If you and your partner do not agree then you should arrange to have a mediation immediately, at which point you can outline the reasons you want to leave and your proposals to continue facilitating a relationship with the children. If the other parent still does not agree, then you will need to get permission from the court before you can move. In this set of circumstances, you have a persuasive case to immediately move back to the Gold Coast with the children. We can assist you in preparing the relevant application and supporting documents

The mother of my children is Japanese and after separation she advised me that she is going to be moving back to Japan with the children, can she do this?

No, the same principles apply in relation to international relocations as they do domestic. The mother would first need your permission in writing before she can move, or would need to apply for permission from the Family Court.

Should I sign the children’s passport applications?

A child’s passport application for an Australian passport requires the signature of both parents before the passport will be issued. If you believe the other parent is going to relocate with the children overseas you should refuse to sign their passports.

But what if my partner knows how to sign my signature and might apply for the passports without my knowledge?

You should always request a child passport alert from the Australian Passport Office website or by phoning 131 232. Even if you do not believe the other parent might try to copy your signature, there are a number of different ways to apply for a child’s passport without the other parent’s permission.

The children already have passports from a recent family holiday to New Zealand, the mother took the passports at separation.

If you believe there is an eminent risk that the children will be removed from Australia, you should contact our office and we will apply to the court urgently for the children to be put on the AFP Watch List at every airport and seaport in Australia. This way the children will be stopped at the customs boarder.

What if the children have already been taken from Australia?

The answer to this question is quite detailed and will depend on a number of factors, which I have discussed in my article on International Family Law.

If you can't find an answer to your query from the set of FAQs above, contact our experienced Family Lawyers on 1300 253 203.