Organising access visits when one parents lives in another country

Posted on: 20 March 2015

As people travel more, relationships between people from different countries are becoming more common. When divorce or separation occurs it isn't unusual for the parents to want to return to their home countries for the support of their family members. No matter where the parents reside, the aim of the family law court is to allow children to retain a reasonable relationship with both parents.

Travel overseas must be approved

Even if the travel is to one of the parent's home countries, both parents must approve the travel before the child can leave the country. While Australian courts retain jurisdiction over Australian children. The practicalities of getting children returned to Australia from countries is a challenge that Hague Convention can help with. 

While keeping physical custody of the children's passports is a good idea, if you are concerned your ex-spouse may want leave the country with the children, without your permission immigration can refuse to allow the child to leave the country if a family law order is in place.

Australian courts have jurisdiction over Australia children

Although in many cases children may have a dual citizenship as a birthright of having a parent who is a citizen of another country, the Australian courts generally retain jurisdiction over children who have been born in Australia. Where children have been born overseas, the Australian family court will usually refer the matter back to the country of the children's birth.

Costs of access visits are usually shared

While the costs of access visits are usually shared, if one parent elects to move a substantial distance they may be responsible for a larger portion of the costs of access visits. The courts can restrict parents from moving certain distances, if the reason for moving is not considered reasonable for the child.

To manage the costs of access it's a good idea to alternate and mix in other forms of access including Internet video calls, emails, letters and phone conversations.

In many cases the easiest solution for access visits is for the parent who has left Australia to come back to Australia for access visits, rather than the child leaving the country.

If you are looking to negotiate on access plan that covers Australian children having access to foreign parents it is a good idea to contact a family lawyer such as Freedom Family Law. They can help mediate and clarify the agreement in parenting plan, which can be lodged with the court as enforceable parenting orders.