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I’m scared my ex won’t bring our kids back from overseas!

Separation can be daunting especially negotiating parenting time to see the kids. It never feels like it’s enough, after being able to see them every day pre-separation.

Waiting for days or weeks to see your kids can feel like an absolute eternity, whether it is for just a couple of hours, overnight or a full weekend. Every hour with them is precious.

The anxiety and stress in coparenting prior to any consent orders being put in place can have you feel like you are walking on egg shells, with the fear of conflict resulting in time with the children being refused at any moment.

This constant fear of losing time with the children can be further exacerbated if your ex declares they want to take the children on an extended overseas holiday whereby you won’t get to see them for weeks!

Panic can set in on whether the children will be brought home or whether they will be absconded away from you to start a new life afresh far, faraway. With no consent orders in place, it would take longer to seek a recovery order from the court to have them returned. If they are taken to a non-Hague convention country then it may be impossible to seek their recovery.

If your ex has family overseas, this can be a greater risk of the children being taken to their parent’s mother land to gain family support and start a new life. If you feel there is a great risk of your children being taken overseas and not returned, you can put your children on the AFP watchlist so they cannot leave the country without your permission.

So many separated parents don’t have parenting plans in place let alone consent orders created. It is important to have a parenting plan developed which in turn is converted into consent orders prior to overseas travel occurring with the children. This safeguards your children being able to be recovered if not returned.

You can even agree with your coparent that the children’s passports are kept with a solicitor which can be released to the travelling coparent upon submission of copies of flight tickets & itinerary. Once the children are returned the passports are lodged back with the solicitor.

You could also agree a ‘bond’ be paid to the solicitor by the travelling coparent of $10K to be held for the duration of the trip and reimbursed upon return of the children.

Family Dispute Resolution will help you and your coparent agree on a parenting plan that includes parenting time, school holidays and special events, medical and school decisions and overseas travel agreements that you can take to a lawyer to be converted into consent orders prior to overseas travel.

If you as the coparent are thinking of taking the children overseas to live without permission, you may find recovery orders of the children will be issued ordering that the children are returned to Australia. You are not required to return, but the children would be. Absconding with the children is not seen in a good light by the court so you are better off going to court to gain approval prior to relocating the children overseas. You would need to provide justification as to why it is in the best interests of the children for them to leave Australia and how you would fund and facilitate the children seeing the other parent throughout the year.

This also applies to interstate travel too whereby you or your ex may wish to relocate the children interstate to return to a home town where there is a support network of family and friends or a new job opportunity.

Protect your children’s rights to a meaningful relationship with both parents by ensuring consent orders are put in place for your family.

Author – Cheryl Duffy, Divorce Coach, Mediator & Parenting Coordinator

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