As more families become "international" many are faced with the dilemma that on divorce (or separation) one partner wants to go back home with the children and the other wants them to stay here. This article outlines what to consider if you're thinking about leaving Australia.

Globalisation has led to us seeing more international families. With the increasing divorce rates, many marriages do not turn out to be the happily ever after that the couple had hoped for. At the end of the marriage, many find themselves living in Australia while all their family and support networks are in their home country. Some may want to go back home with their children.

The legal term for this is 'relocation'.

In Australia, a parent cannot leave Australia with the children without first obtaining the permission of the other parent or approaching the court for permission to relocate.

In the event that a parent packs up and goes home without obtaining that permission they can be brought back to Australia.
We always recommend that parents speak to the other parent to obtain their permission first and as a last resort, approach a court.

Often by speaking to your partner you will be able to put their mind at rest that you have thought of ways to ensure that they don't lose touch with their children.


Do your homework and think about it very carefully before speaking to your partner. Make sure you have considered things such as:

  • job prospects
  • support system
  • school applications
  • accommodation options
  • proposal for time to be spent with the other parent.

The better prepared you are the greater likelihood that you will be able to agree. Be sure to have insight into how hard this might be for your partner.

If you can't resolve it and still want to approach the court for permission remember the court is going to look at it from what's in the children's best interests. The more time a parent spends with children at the time the application to court is made the less likely a court will agree to allow you to go. This is because the greater role the other parent is playing in the children's lives the greater the damage may be if the children are to relocate and be separated from that parent.

It's best to reality test and make sure your motivation is in the right place. Are you trying to reduce your former partner's time with the children or are you seeking a better life for you and your children?

As the world shrinks this issue will be continue to be on the rise for family lawyers.

For further information please contact:

Melanie Rubin, Senior Associate
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.