Children’s passports – getting one and stopping one issue
The issuing of passports sometimes comes up when a separated couple are trying to work out parenting arrangements, but more often than not it comes up unexpectedly and urgently. The challenges can be complicated and situations are rarely the same, so here are some quick tips that might prove helpful.
How do I obtain a passport for a child?
If you are wanting to obtain a passport for your child you need to complete a Passport Application for your child with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (“the Department”) through the Australian Passport Office. The relevant website is https://www.passports.gov.au/
Is consent necessary?
Parties who have ‘parental responsibility’ for a child will need to provide their consent on the Passport Application. Generally, it is the parents who have the parental responsibility for a child and their names will usually be listed on the child’s Birth Certificate.
What if there is only one parent named on the Birth Certificate?
Even if only one parent is named on the child’s Birth Certificate the other parent or person who has parental responsibility also needs to provide their consent.
What if I have a Court Order?
A court order (from the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia) can override the requirement for the consent to be obtained by the other party who has parental responsibility.
The court can grant orders ordering a party to consent to the issue of a passport for a child, or dispensing with a parent’s need to consent to a passport issuing.
If you are a person who has sole parental responsibility for your child in a court order then you should not need the consent of the other parent or person who has parental responsibility.
How do I prevent a passport from issuing?
If you are concerned that the other parent or person with parental responsibility for the child will apply for the child’s passport without your consent or fraudulently sign your signature on an Application you should lodge a Child Alert Request with the Department which alerts them that there may be circumstances to be considered before an Australian passport is issued.
This Child Alert Request:
1. will not prevent a child from travelling overseas if they already have an Australian passport;
2. will only remain valid for a period of up to 12 months but can be extended by a Court Order;
3. is not guaranteed to prevent the child’s passport from issuing;
4. is different to having your child placed on the Family Law Watchlist to prevent your child from travelling overseas.
Are special circumstances considered?
A child’s passport may still be issued by the Department if the consent of both parents or persons with parental responsibility is not obtained. Such circumstances can include but is not limited to:
1. The child urgently needs to travel internationally because of a family crisis and it is not possible to contact the other person who has responsibility for the child within a reasonable period of time.
2. The non-consenting person is missing or dead.
3. There has been no contact between the child and the non-consenting person for a substantial period of time before the Application is made.
4. A Family Violence Order (DVO) has been issued against the non-consenting person.
You should not rely upon special circumstances in order for a child’s passport to issue as there is no guarantee that a passport will issue even if one of the special circumstances is met as full consent of both people who have parental responsibility for the child should be obtained. The Minister for Foreign Affairs may also not exercise their discretion for a child’s passport to issue because they consider the matter should be dealt with by a Court.
If you need a court order for your child’s passport please call us on (07) 3221 4300 for a fixed-fee initial consultation with a Family Law expert.