International Family Law


Many Australians assume that their lives would not be impacted by international matters when it comes to family law. However, in an increasingly globalised world, most of us will be affected by international matters. Some of these scenarios are described below.

Overseas assets and income

Often, clients assume that overseas assets cannot be divided in Australia. An Australian Family Law Court can in fact force a party to divide overseas assets. Alternatively, our Court may order that one party receive more of the assets in Australia in lieu of receiving a share of overseas assets. We can help you to obtain a fair settlement in Australia.

Many of our clients have received money from their parents overseas. We can assist you to gather evidence and present them to Court so your property settlement properly reflects these gifts and loans.

Overseas trips

However, the majority of us would need to travel overseas for work or play at some point in our lives. Some of us do so regularly. When negotiating a custody arrangement for you, we can advise you about how to secure the right to travel overseas with your child without having to obtain the other parent’s consent each time your child needs to travel overseas. We have had to issue urgent court applications for clients who have booked overseas holidays with the children, only to find that they are unable to travel without the other parent’s written agreement. We have had many matters where one parent refuses to sign the passport application form for their children. These are matters that are better dealt with now, without time pressure, then after you have paid for a plane ticket and accommodation.

On the flip side coin, if you are concerned about your ex taking your children overseas and not returning them, we can assist you to block their departure from Australia by obtaining an order to have your children placed on the Airport Watchlist. Once your children are gone, it may not be possible to force their return.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-heartbreaking-international-child-abductions-tearing-families-apart-20191223-p53mj7.html

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-17/sally-faulkners-heartbreak-over-child-abduction/7902356

Relocating with children

Sometimes, people need to move overseas for work or because they have re-partnered. You do not need your ex’s consent to move overseas. But, you do need their agreement to move overseas with your children.

If your ex agrees for your children to move overseas with you, you should get their agreement documented in a legally binding document in case they change their mind later. The legal document can also contain clauses about when the children visit Australia and how their trips are paid. Further, sometimes Australian Border Force at the Airport may require a legal document to prove that the children are permitted to travel overseas.

If your ex does not agree for your children to move overseas with you, you can only legally take the children overseas if you obtain a relocation order. Before you incur significant costs taking the matter to Court, we can advise you of your prospects of success and what evidence you need to present to the Court to increase the likelihood of you being granted a relocation order.

Recovering abducted children

Australia has entered into a bilateral treaty (Hague Abduction Convention) with many countries that gives our authorities an avenue to require the return of children taken out of Australia without the other parents’ consent (including those who are withheld overseas beyond the agreed upon date of return). If your children are currently overseas without your consent, please contact us urgently for legal advice. If you do not act urgently, you may lose the right to seek relief under the Hague Convention.

Child support

A common question in relation to child support is whether someone assessed to pay child support is still required to pay if they have moved overseas. If the payer parent resides overseas in a country which has a bilateral child support arrangement with Australia (“a reciprocal jurisdiction”), then there is a way for the payee parent to enforce child support payments.

Please contact us if you have further questions about international family law.

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