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International travel and children in the current and post-Covid-19 world

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It is no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Australians in ways that could never have been predicted.  From the immediate closure of our favourite restaurants, bars and clubs to the crippling and devastating effect it is having on our economy, our health, both mental and physical and our social lives.  

Australia will take an unknown time to fully recover, and it forecast that one of the last things to return to “normal”, is international air travel.

It is estimated that this may not happen until at least the year 2023, based upon comments made by Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, who stated, “I can’t see, I have no vision at the moment on the current international scene where international border measures of some very strong vigour won’t be necessary”.  This news, understandably, would be devastating for parents with children overseas, or for parents overseas with children here in Australia.

There is an array of scenarios where international travel may be required so that parents, children and grandparents can spend time together.  Separated or divorced parents might have Court Orders in place enabling their children to travel in and out of Australia to spend time with one parent, or an extended family member.

Given the current COVID-19 climate and worldwide restrictions, fulfilling these Orders and maintaining long-distant relationships is going to be challenging.  It is therefore imperative that you seek legal advice regarding those Orders and the options available to you with respect to interim arrangements.

During these unprecedented times, it is important to remember that the Family Court, and the world for that matter, has not dealt with a pandemic of this nature, or the associated restrictions, before now.  Any predictions about what may happen with international travel can only be pure conjecture. 

We remain hopeful that governments around the world will be mindful of the various family situations of travellers and make appropriate provisions regarding the importance of maintaining and nurturing family relationships.  The Australian Family Court has an extremely broad range of powers, enabling it to provide support to families who need solutions to the problems caused by COVID-19.

If you have a child in Australia and wish to travel or have any questions in relation to your children being able to travel, please seek legal advice.  Alternatively, if your child is in England or Wales, we have lawyers who would be able to advise you in relation to the applicable law in both jurisdictions. If Court Orders are not in place, and a verbal agreement between amicable parties has subsequently dissolved, or, if you are in a situation where one parent has fled the country with your children, contact us urgently to seek legal advice.

Never delay seeking legal advice when it comes to children’s matters.  All children experience stress when faced with family changes.  Once the changes have been allowed to settle, the Family Court may be reluctant to cause further, potentially damaging upheaval to the child’s current situation overseas.

We have an experienced team of lawyers who specialise in this area, including lawyers admitted in both Australia and England and Wales.  Please contact our Team for further information.

 

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Wednesday, 15 July 2020