The risks that are involved with removing a child from Australia without a parent’s consent are high, and for this reason it can be quite difficult to obtain a passport without both parents’ consent. The need for consent extends to any person who has parental responsibility. This may be because they are listed on the child’s birth certificate or by order of the court.
There are 3 ways to obtain a passport for your child:
- Where both parents sign the application form;
- A special circumstances application; or
- Obtain court orders from the Family Court of Western Australia.
In the event that one parent or person with parental responsibility for a child refuses to sign a passport application, the Minister (for Foreign Affairs and Trade) has the power under section 11(2) of the Australian Passports Act (Cth) 2005 and section 10 of the Australian Passports Determination (Cth) 2015 to issue a passport due to special circumstances.
Examples of special circumstances include:
- The inability to contact one parent or person with parental responsibility;
- Where there has been no contact between the child and parent or person with parental responsibility for a substantial period before the application is made; and
- Where there is a family violence order in place;
- Where the Minister is satisfied that the child’s welfare would be adversely affected if the if the child were not able to travel; or
- Where the child needs to travel internationally urgently due to a family crisis.
The delegate reviewing the application can either issue the passport, not issue a passport as special circumstances do not exist or direct the decision be made by the courts.
In the event that you are deemed not to have special circumstances, then your final option is to make an application in the Family Court of Western Australia. Here the court will have a number of issues to take into account when making the decision, with the paramount consideration being what is in the best interest of the child.
A court application involves an initiating application detailing the orders sought from the court as well as a supporting affidavit.
Court applications can last anywhere from a few months to a few years. We strongly advise not booking any overseas holidays prior to having orders in place to obtain a passport without the consent from the other parent or person with parental responsibility.