Obtaining an Australian passport for your child without the other parent’s consent

Your bags are packed, the cruise is booked, but you realise that the passport you hold for your child has expired. Or you find that they never had one to begin with. In Australia there are three ways in which a passport can be obtained for a child. By an application with the consent of all parties who have parental responsibility for the child; by order of an Australian Court, or by application to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the avenues available under the legislation governing passports. While obtaining a passport for your child is easy enough with the consent of the other parent – or persons with parental responsibility – it becomes harder to navigate when the other parent refuses to provide their consent.

By order of an Australian Court (Commonwealth, State or Territory)

Without the consent of the other parent, an order of an Australian Court is the next best option. To ensure a passport is issued for your child, the order should include:

  • That the person making the application for the passport is permitted to make such an application with or without the other parent’s consent; and
  • That the child is permitted to travel internationally; or
  • That the child is permitted to travel internationally to spend time with a person outside of Australia.

By special consideration

Without either the consent of the other parent or an order of the Court; your final option is to make an application to the Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for special consideration. These applications can face lengthy delays, with the current estimated time frame for consideration being 6-8 weeks. There is also no guarantee that the application will be granted, and you could find that after a lengthy wait, the application is rejected due to the Minister determining:

  • There is no special circumstance to warrant intervention; or
  • The application would be better heard by an Australian Court.

Special circumstances include an urgency for the travel by the child; an inability to contact the non-consenting parent for a substantial period of time; or that not travelling would impact the child’s physical or psychological wellbeing. The list of special considerations can be found in s 11(5) of the Australian Passports Act 2005 (Cth) and s 10 of the Passports Determination Act 2015 (Cth).

What this should tell you is not to book that trip to Disneyland just yet! If you find yourself wanting a passport for your child but without the consent of the other parent, it is best to seek advice about your individual circumstances, as the urgency and reasons for international travel play an important role in which course of action may be most suitable. Litigation should always be a last resort and it may be that mediation or lawyer assisted negotiation will avoid the need for a costly dispute with the other party.

If you would like advice about your particular circumstances, call us to make an appointment on (02) 6225 7040 or send us an email at info@rmfamilylaw.com.au.