Victoria Legal Aid

Relocating or travelling with children

What action can be taken if children moving house will greatly affect the time they spend with a parent or another significant person in their lives, or where there are disputes between parents about children travelling interstate or overseas.

Note that the law is changing on 6 May 2024. We will update this content closer to 6 May 2024.

If you are concerned about your own situation and whether these changes might affect you, please contact us.

Get legal advice if you want to take the children away from the family home, or move a significant distance from where you are living and you don’t have the other parent or guardian's agreement.

If you do not have the other parent or guardian's agreement and they apply for court orders, you are likely to be ordered to return the children.

If you and the other parent or guardian share equal parental responsibility for your children, you must talk to each other and try to come to agreement about major long-term decisions. This includes if you plan to move to another area, travel overseas and even holiday arrangements.

You must make a genuine effort to try and reach an agreement before you make arrangements. If you cannot agree, a family dispute resolution service may be able to help. If you still cannot agree you will need to apply to the court.

If you plan to move or travel without approval, and the increased distance would greatly affect the time your children would spend with their other parent or significant person, that person can apply to the court to:

  • stop the children leaving – this is called a restraining order
  • have the children returned – this is called a recovery order.

Moving house

If you cannot come to agreement, you can apply to the court to allow you to move. The court must consider whether it is in the children’s best interests, balanced against your freedom to move.

A court decision may take many months, sometimes years. There is no guarantee that the children will be allowed to move.

It is important that you get legal advice. Do not assume it is all right to move because there are no court orders in place.

Holiday travel

There may be orders preventing children from leaving a particular state or territory, even on holiday.

If you are in dispute about interstate holiday travel, you should still try to reach an agreement.

If you want to take the children overseas and the other parent disagrees, you have to apply to the court.

If the other parent will not sign the passport application and you think they are being unreasonable, you can apply to the court for the passport to be issued without the other parent’s consent. The court may allow the children to travel if it believes it to be in the children’s best interests.

The court also considers the risk of the children not returning to Australia. The court may place conditions on your travel, such as payment of money, to make sure that they come back.

Moving children because of violence or abuse

If there is violence or child abuse and you or your children are at risk, or have to move in an emergency, get urgent legal advice and other support.

Do not breach court orders unless the children are at immediate risk of serious harm. You may receive serious penalties or have the children removed from your care in the short term. They can be removed permanently in extreme situations. Contact the police and get legal help if you or the children are at risk of harm.

Other support

Find out how you can get other support for parenting arrangements and child contact.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 04 April 2024

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