The short answer is no. Once a parent has left the jurisdiction of Australia with the children, the children may become the centre of an international child abduction and never be returned to Australia. International child abduction is a parent's worst nightmare and causes severe psychological trauma to the children and the left behind parent.

If there are no current court proceedings or court orders precluding your former spouse from taking the children overseas, it is against the law- but not a criminal offence, for them to take the children overseas without your permission. Once the children are overseas you may be unable to secure the safe return of the children back to Australia.

If a former spouse wants to take the children overseas, whether it be for an apparently innocent reason such as an overseas holiday, or to visit relatives, you should seek immediate legal advice. There are protective measures that can be put in place such as placing the children's names on the Australian Federal Police Family Law Watchlist. This will prevent the children from leaving Australia until proper arrangements are in place to ensure the children are returned to Australia at the end of the holiday or visit.

If you have any concerns regarding your former spouse taking the children overseas, obtain legal advice now before it's too late.

For further information please contact:

Caroline Bass, Partner
Phone: + 61 2 9233 5544

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.