Relocating Children

If you are considering moving your children to live at a distance that would greatly affect the time they spend with the other parent you need to:

This includes moving interstate or overseas. A move like this will have an effect on the children maintaining their relationship with the other parent. The best interests of the children must be considered in these circumstances.

Relocating with children

If one parent is planning on moving away with the children and this is going to limit the time the other parent can spend with them, then a court may not give permission to do so. The parent who is moving should consider applying to the Court, prior to the move, for a Relocation Order. The court will consider what is in the best interests of the child before granting permission to move away from the other parent.

If the other parent wants to stop the move, then they can apply to the courts to prevent the relocation. The costs involved of a parent needing to travel to visit children can be taken into account when making the orders. If the other parent is planning to take the child out of the state without your consent, you can find information on injunctions on the Legal Aid Website.

Travelling Overseas

If there is parenting order relating to the children, it is against the law to move the children from Australia without the written agreement of everyone covered by the order or by a further court order.

If a parent is planning to take their children overseas they need to get written permission from the other parent, even if the children already hold a passport. If a child doesn’t have a passport, both parents need to sign the Passport Application. Providing consent for a passport does not mean the parent consents to international travel, and on each occasion permission needs to be obtained from the other parent.

If one parent won’t sign the application, then the other parent can write to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, asking that they consider issuing a passport due to ‘special circumstances’. If this fails, then an application to the Federal Circuit Court will have to be made for an Order allowing the child to travel internationally.

If you are concerned your children will be taken overseas

If there is a risk your children will be taken overseas, it is important to act quickly and get legal advice. An application can be made to the Court for one of the following orders:

If you think there will be a passport application without your consent you can ask the Passports Office for advice about putting the children's names on a child alert list, which is valid for up to 12 months. The Passports Office will contact you if the other parent makes a passport application without your agreement.

An alert means there is special scrutiny of an application. It does not guarantee that a passport will not be issued or prevent a foreign passport being issued if the children are eligible. Other countries have different requirements for issuing passports. Contact the embassy of that country if you are concerned about the children travelling on a passport from another country.

In urgent circumstances you can ask that the names of your children be put on a watch list by the Australian Federal Police. This will prevent the children from being taken through any air or sea port. You need to have a court order in place or be currently applying for an order for your child’s name to be put on the watch list. In urgent circumstances, the Court will act quickly to put the necessary orders in place.

Dealing with these issues is complex, and you should seek legal advice before applying.


Recovery Orders

If the child is not returned after a scheduled visit, and you cannot come to an agreement with the other parent, then you may need to apply for a recovery order. Recovery orders can authorise a police officer to take appropriate action to find, recover and return a child.

See the recovery order page for more information.

Last updated: 16-Apr-2018

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