What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility comes about in two different ways:

  1. The common law responsibility that arises from being the birth parent of a child.
  2. The statutory parental responsibility that can be allocated by the Family Court under the Family Law Act 1975. This is granted through a court order.

In general, each parent of a child has parental responsibility of the child from birth until the child is 18 years old. Separation, divorce and remarriage do not affect this. The common law allows parents to act unilaterally or jointly in making decisions for the child. This includes authorising a passport for the child and taking the child overseas.

However, if there are court orders pertaining to parental responsibility, new obligations arise. When there is an order which requires shared parental responsibility, all those with parental responsibility will need to authorise travel documents and be aware of planned overseas travel.

Getting a passport for your child

If you plan on taking your child overseas, they will require a passport. In order to attain a passport, you need written consent from all parties with parental responsibility. If you can’t get written consent from all the required parties, you can make a written request to the Approved Senior Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, asking them to consider granting a passport due to ‘special circumstances’.

Family Law Act 1975

Section 65Y and 65Z of the Family Law Act 1975 prohibit the removal of a child from Australia without the consent of each other involved party. As each parenting order differs, there are different requirement in regard to the consent required to take a child overseas. Some parenting orders may require this consent to be written.

What if the other parent is planning to take your child overseas?

If you do not consent to this and the other parent maintains that they are going to take the children overseas, you can apply to the court for orders. There are three different types of court orders which can be made.

For professional advice contact Katherine Hawes of Digital Age Lawyers on (02) 8858 3211 or visit www.digitalagelawyers.com.
This article is sponsored by Digital Age Lawyers.

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