Preventing Your Ex from Taking Your Children Out of the Country

When an Australian journalist was arrested in Japan for trespassing and was subsequently given a suspended sentence, why was this even newsworthy? The trespassing occurred during the journalist's attempt to see his children, who had been taken out of Australia by their Japanese mother. This is certainly a concern for anyone who has separated from a partner who has citizenship or permanent residency in another country. If you fear that your ex is planning to take your children out of the country (and out of the jurisdiction of the Australian legal system), what are your options?

Stipulate That Removal Is Not Permitted

When negotiating custody arrangements, family lawyers are there to help each party reach an agreement that suits both parents while still remaining in the children's best interests. You can instruct your lawyer to add a stipulation to the parenting agreement that taking your children out of the country without your consent is not permitted. If your ex should wish to take your children to their home country, even if just for a visit, this can be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. Any restrictions to travel will be clearly stated in the finalised parenting agreement, and each party will be legally required to adhere to these conditions. But what's to stop your ex from simply leaving the country with your children and perhaps planning to never return?

Placing Your Children on a Watchlist

If you have a legitimate concern that your ex is planning to leave Australia with your children, you need to act quickly. You will file a request to have your children placed on the Family Law Watchlist, which then issues an alert at passport control when your children are going through immigration. They will then be prevented from clearing immigration and boarding the aircraft. How do make this request?

  1. You must have an existing parenting order which clearly restricts or prevents your child from international travel without your explicit consent.
  2. Alternatively, a specific court order can be made when the parenting agreement does not place any restrictions on international travel. Your lawyer can lodge the application on your behalf, or you can do so yourself with the Family Courts.
  3. You will then need to complete a Family Law Watchlist request with the Australian Federal Police, but this can only be filed along with a copy of the relevant parenting agreement or court order.

If you are worried that your ex will attempt to remove your children from Australia, it's crucial that you take the necessary steps to prevent this from happening.

To learn more, contact a family lawyer.