Family Law Watchlist - Protecting Children

What is the Family Law Watchlist

The Australian Federal Police (“AFP”) are responsible for the administration of the Family Law Watchlist (“the Watchlist”). The Watchlist, formerly known as the Airport Watchlist, is a national register which lists the names of children who are not permitted to leave Australia by any departure point, including airport and seaport. If an attempt is made to remove a child from Australia an alert is triggered with the AFP who will intervene to prevent that child’s removal form the country.

When will a child be placed on the Watchlist

A child can be placed on the Watchlist in the following circumstances:

  • Where the Court has made an order limiting or preventing the child’s international travel;
  • Where the Court has issued an injunction limiting or preventing the child’s international travel;
  • Where there is a current application before the Court that may limit or prevent the child travelling overseas;
  • Where there is a current application before the Court seeking an order to place the child on the Watchlist;
  • Where the child is the subject of a parenting order or injunction under appeal.

How to place a child on the Watchlist

There are 2 ways that a child may be placed on the Watchlist:

  • By obtaining an order preventing the child’s travel overseas and which requests the AFP to place the child’s name on the Watchlist; or
  • Filing an application with the Court seeking to limit or prevent a child from travelling overseas and requesting that the AFP place the child’s name on the Watchlist. Once an application is filed seeking these orders, a request form can be obtained from the AFP to register the child’s name until an order is obtained.

There are 2 types of Watchlist orders – an absolute order or a conditional order. An absolute order will completely prevent the child from travelling whereas a conditional order will allow the parents (or persons who have parental responsibility) to provide authenticated consent the effect of which will be to remove the child’s name for a set window of time.

Removing the child from the Watchlist

If a child’s name is to be removed form the Watchlist, a further Court order is required. It is very important when framing final parenting orders to pay careful attention to Watchlists.

Specialist family law advice is always recommended and we encourage you to reach out to us at Kelly & McHale Family Lawyers. We are a team of highly experienced Accredited Family Law Specialists who are dedicated to assisting clients in all aspects of family law, including parenting matters and international travel and relocation. Contact us today to find out more about how our expertise can assist you.

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