Risk of removal of children from Australia

If you are worried that your ex-partner (or another person) may try to take your child or children overseas and not return, you should get urgent legal advice. You may need to make an urgent application to the Family Court of WA to ask for orders to try and stop your child being taken or sent overseas and to have your child’s name placed on the Family Law Watchlist.

Legal Aid WA can give legal advice and assistance to people who are worried their child may be taken overseas without permission. This includes, in some situations, help with urgent court applications. 

We have a duty lawyer service located at the Family Court of WA in Perth which can help with urgent family law problems, including applications to prevent a child being taken overseas. The duty lawyer service is a free drop-in service (no appointment required) available Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm. 

Quick Answers Video: If you are worried your child may be removed from Australia
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For a child to travel overseas, they will generally need a passport. If your child already has a passport, if possible, you should keep hold of it and keep it somewhere safe.

In most cases, to get an Australia passport for a child, both parents must agree and sign a passport application. All people with parental responsibility for a child need to give their permission.

If you are worried your ex-partner (or someone else who has parental responsibility) may try to get a passport without telling you, you can request a child passport alert by lodging a Child Alert Request Form with the Australian Passport Office.

Different countries have different rules about passports for children. If your child may be able to get a foreign passport, contact the foreign embassy or consulate to get more information.

What orders can the Family Court of WA make?

The Family Court of WA can make orders restraining a person from taking or sending your child overseas. This type of order is called an ‘injunction’.

You can ask the court to make an injunction to stop a child being taken overseas even if you do not have current orders in place about your child. The court can also make an order requiring the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to place your child’s name on the Family Law Watchlist.

What is the Family Law Watchlist?

The Family Law Watchlist is designed to alert the AFP if a child is leaving Australia. If a child’s name is on the Watchlist and the alert is activated, the child will not be allowed to leave Australia.

What are some things the court will consider?

The following are some things the court will consider when deciding whether to make orders to stop your child being taken overseas:

  • whether your ex-partner has told you about their travel plans
  • whether your ex-partner has purchased a one-way or return travel tickets
  • in relation to an overseas holiday, whether your ex-partner has given you details about how long the trip will last and where your child will be staying
  • whether your ex-partner has done things that suggest they may be moving away (for example, selling their home or moving out of their rental property, moving their belongings into storage, closing bank accounts, telling school that your child is leaving
  • whether your ex-partner has family and other support overseas, and
  • whether the country your ex-partner is taking your child is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Abduction of Children.

More information

Legal Aid WA
Australian Federal Police
Australian Passports Office


Reviewed: 26 September 2023


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.