Australia: A seasonal warning - Santa Clause is coming to town but you may not be going anywhere.

Last Updated: 21 December 2011
Article by Kevin Bartlett

Contemplating holiday travel with the kids? Do you have court orders about parenting? Are you paying child support?

Well, you would never live it down if you got to the airport and either you or the children weren't allowed to travel out of the country.

Section 65Y(1) of the Family Law Act 1975 requires that where a parenting order is in force, a person who was a party to the proceedings in which the order was made, or a person who is acting on behalf of, or at the request of, such a party, must not take or send a child the subject of those orders outside Australia, except as permitted by the legislation. And, in case you think this provision is not taken seriously, then bear in mind that the penalty for breaching this section of the Act is 3 years imprisonment.

Travel is allowed under section 65Y(2) where there is written consent from each person in whose favour the order was made, or where the travel is in accordance with a court order made at the time of or after the making of the parenting order. That means if you and your ex-spouse have court orders about living arrangements for your children, then you have a parenting order and you must have the other parent's consent to travel even if the children have current passports.

Written consent or an order allowing travel gets you over the first hurdle.

But do you remember what you agreed to when the orders were made?

Parenting orders frequently allow parents to take their children overseas provided the children are not taken to a country that is not a signatory to the 'Hague Convention'. This is the international agreement whereby ratifying countries co-operate to ensure the return of children wrongfully removed from their normal place of residence. Orders might also prevent travel to a country in respect of which the Department of Foreign Affairs has issued warnings to 'not travel', 'reconsider the need to travel' or 'exercise a high degree of caution' when travelling.

So you're not going to Burkina Faso [does anyone go there?] or some well-known war zone, but it's still wise to check the Department of Foreign Affairs' list of travel warnings.

Many people don't expect to have a problem travelling to Bali for a beach holiday with their kids but the Department says to 'exercise a high degree of caution' when travelling to that destination. Depending on the wording of your orders, that might mean that you have to cancel your trip to Bali with the kids; and let's hope you find out that information before you get to the customs barrier.

It's not unheard of that both parents are agreeable to children travelling to a destination without realising that there is some degree of travel warning associated with the destination. That problem cannot be overcome by written consent as an order is an order until it's changed.

If you check out the travel warnings, you might see that Japan is considered safe at the moment. That's great if Bali is out but it's still really important to check your court order.

If the order says that you can't take the children to a country that's not a signatory to the Hague Convention, then it is important that you realise that a number of nations that are very friendly with Australia, are not signatories to the Hague Convention. Japan is one of these countries as well as being a popular destination for Australians. Strangely enough Burkina Faso is a signatory. Go figure!

The best advice we can give is that you check your court order, and if you are not sure, seek advice as to what it really means and where you can go. If you've lost your order, or can't find a copy then it's well worth obtaining another copy from the court. You don't want to be in the same position as our unfortunate client last year who had to forfeit tickets for herself and her daughter to travel to Bali because she had agreed not to take the little girl to a country where there was a 'high degree of caution when travelling' recommended. Ultimately, she enjoyed a lovely holiday along the Great Ocean Road but that was not the destination she had in mind when she spent money on tickets to Indonesia that then went to waste.

And, lastly, possibly the greatest cause of embarrassment for a travelling parent: being prevented from travelling with your children because the Child Support Agency has issued a Departure Prohibition Order against you. This may occur where there are long-term or substantial arrears of child support owing.

The Child Support Agency will take all other steps before this last resort option but if you have moved and haven't updated the Agency with your new address, they can still issue a DPO. The first time you hear about it might be at the airport. Obviously, the best advice is to keep up-to-date with your child support payments.

So if you have travel plans this Christmas, you'd better be making a list and checking it twice before packing your bags.

And, remember that Family Law team members of Cooper Grace Ward are close at hand and available to help with any problem you may have during the holiday period. Call Nichola Di Muzio on 07 3231 2560

Winner - EOWA Employer of Choice for Women Citation 2009, 2010 and 2011
Winner - Australasian Law Awards Gold Employer of Choice 2011
Finalist - ALB Australasian Law Awards 2008, 2010 and 2011 (Best Brisbane Firm)
Winner - BRW Client Choice Awards 2009 and 2010 - Best Australian Law Firm (revenue less than $50m)

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.