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Passports

Passports is an ongoing grinding issue with me. When we made our orders in 2008 I had built in to the orders that the children would be allowed to travel overseas with me on achieving the age of 8. (Would have made it earlier but ex would not have a bar of it and I was looking to resolve other issues as priority at the time). Anyway, youngest turned 8 last year and I wanted passports in line with orders and she would not agree. Only when I got serious about taking the matter back to court did she comply, and I ultimately took the kids to Fiji over Christmas. The ex believes that I should now turn the passports over to her. I am reluctant to do so as I now have booked a trip to the US for the kids at the end of the year. I don't want to find myself in a situation where she wont give them to me when I need them again - and believe me she wont be happy about the kids travelling to the US with me when she finds out (doesn't know yet). She's a neurotic nutcase.

So I am thinking I will just keep them and refuse her demands. However I am concerned that she could just call up the passport office and cancel them if I don't comply with her demands to retain them. Then it will be a real process to get them reissued.

Just wondering if anyone has any good ideas about how to handle this?
If the court orders do not stipulate that the passports should be handed over then they don't need to be and I believe that they are, as you applied and paid for them, yours. Perhaps you could pre-empt any action by informing immigration of the court orders that state that the passports should not be cancelled. Perhaps something along the lines of:

e.g. Dear Sir/Madam,
                             I believe that a request may be made by xxx, to cancel paspport(s) x, in the name of xxxxxx. I believe that the passport(s) should not be cancelled as court orders, under the family law act exist that allow the use of the said passports, as per:

relevant orders and court order identification details here

Perhaps you could suggest, as you have every right to consider her possession of the passports as unsafe as your possession of them, that a third party hold them but as you have sound evidence that they are safe in your hands (safe covering abduction) that this be entirely at the other parents expense.
I have tried cancelling passports myself, and it is not that easy. There usually has to be a really good reason and a court order!.  

If she try's to cancel the passports through false and misleading means, i.e. fill's out the lost passport or stolen passport forms, you can then have her prosecuted by I believe the federal police as it's a crime and so states on both those forms.
GoodDad You don't need to return the passports and you are correct in your thinking as it is highly likely you will organise a trip, pay for the tickets and she won't release the passports. This is unfortunately a story we hear on occasions and once the day arrives to depart and you miss the flight the penalty costs are high both financially and more importunately the absolute distress for the kids who have been looking forward to a holiday.

However you might want to suggest a third party holds the passports and either party may seek to use them for overseas travel in their respective time but the passports must be returned within 7 days to the third party. (Could be a local solicitor). The problem you need to watch is that she does not book an overseas holiday and returns the day before your holiday and wants to run the seven days. So when people want to make it difficult they can. Some compromise solution may be the answer and along the way find out why she is so fixated about holding passports… She must have some concerns you plan to depart Australia.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
If the orders say you don't have to return the passports then you are not breaching them by retaining the passports. I would be loathe to give the other parent access to the passports. When the kids turn 18 they will need to apply for an adult one anyway. The other parent can pay for/retain those.
Do the orders state you have to inform the other parent of the overseas travel? You could save a lot of stress ( on both sides) if you don't announce every trip you take.
Thankyou for comments thus far. I can tell you she is going ballistic that I am not passing the passports to her. Apparently her mother is coming to my workplace today to "talk" to me about it! And it is suggested I give her the passports - not likely!

I assure you her concern is not that I may flee with the children. Her concern is a loss of control about where I may take the children and for how long - even if it is completely in my court ordered time. She feels she has a right to prevent travel if it is not in a form acceptable to her. And a 14 hours flight would not be acceptable to her - she has said repeatedly.

I have written to the passport office to alert them of the possibility of an attempt to cancel passports as suggested.

I have no problem holding on to the passports except for the vitriol I am currently receiving. I am called a mongrel father this morning. Charming.

When we made the orders I did have included an option at either parents request, to have the passports held by an independent third party. I have proposed this occurs to her and suggested she suggest some independent third parties for my consideration. She has ignored this so far - insisting the passports be provided to her alone. I guess I can organise an independent third party on my own but if she doesn't have input then she wont consider them independent.

My concern now though is that she has said in an email last night that she doesn't actually need passports and that if she wanted to stop the kids going overseas she would simply just not handover the children. This is an email worth hanging on to I'm sure you agree.

This however is of course of similar and larger concern. I guess I just don't tell her the dates of travel, which would conflict with the requirements of the orders, as I am supposed to let her know some weeks in advance of my intention to travel and the itinerary.

So, now I am thinking, as I really do not want anything to interfere with this planned booked and paid for trip, whether I should instigate some sort of court action whereby the court would recognise my concerns and make some specific order in relation to this trip. ie "The children must be provided for travel on such and such a date and the mother must take no action to prevent or hinder that travel".

Seems excessive but I am really dealing with an extremely difficult neurotic ex here. And I have had no easy ride since separation is 2006. I have often thought about just waking away from my children because the fight is so nasty and protracted. But naturally I can't do that and I battle on.

Personally I'd see if there was someway to get it sorted by the court.  Really the onus should be on her to apply to the court to have the passports seized if she has a genuine reason for not wanting them to go. If she is as neurotic as you say, then she may just withhold the children instead of taking it to court. If you don't tell her your plans and go then it will look really bad on your part, if she were to take it to court on your return.

My partner is about to lodge an application in court to get a passport/overseas travel issue sorted. All we need to do is file an Interim Application and supporting affidavit with the Federal Circuit Court, costs $330. In our case there are no orders and we are asking the court to take the passports from the other parent. 
Frenzy said
My partner is about to lodge an application in court to get a passport/overseas travel issue sorted. All we need to do is file an Interim Application and supporting affidavit with the Federal Circuit Court, costs $330. In our case there are no orders and we are asking the court to take the passports from the other parent.
I would be surprised if the registry will accept the application without some mediation having been done prior. Will be very interested to see how the registry handles this application.

GoodDad will come unstuck if he does not inform of the travel as prescribed by the court orders. I would be inclined to push harder for an independant third party to hold passports, or advise travel dates and advise the date you require the passports to be released. Make that date six weeks before travel to allow sufficient time to take action. You will then have time to have a matter heard. I would even ask the local court registry to see if they would entertain the application and making of an order to release passports based on yr Family Court orders. The local Court will often deal in the "fringe" areas where it is clear cut and a relatively simple issue.  

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
 
Secretary SPCA - I have rang the court hotline and twice been told no mediation is necessary. From my understanding, family dispute resolution only applies to those seeking Parenting Orders. We are not seeking parenting Orders. Hence why it is only costing $330, rather then $600.

There is information on the family law court site about applying for an order to prevent a passport being issued for a child or an order to do have a a person to deliver a childs or accompanying adult passport to the Court, or an order to prevent a child from leaving Australia on a current passport. Nowhere does it say that mediation is necessary first. If parents had to mediate first before being able to apply to the court to stop overseas travel, then wouldn't that make it easier for a parent to buy time to abduct a child?
  
www.familylawcourts.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/FLC/Home/Children%27s+Matters/Relocation+and+travel/

Last edit: by Frenzy

to gooddad, as long as you are travelling to countries that are signatories to the Hague Convention on child abduction the mother doesn't have any argument about the travel.  If you have court orders there is usually a paragraph about providing so many months' notice of travel intentions, itinerary, where the child can be contacted etc. She can't cancel the passport simply because she has no good reason to.  Ring the passports office and check with them. Some people obtain an order for the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court Registry to hold the passport where there is an argument about it but in your case, just hold on to it. This mother needs to start thinking about what is in the best interests of this child and who would enter into an argument about taking a child on an overseas trip when the child will enjoy it and it will broaden their horizons? What child wouldn't want to do that?
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