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An airport watch list is a list of names at international points of arrival and departure under which persons on the list are closely monitored by the Federal Police. The Watch List is in effect at all international sea ports and airports. The reason for the surveillance could be that those persons are not entitled to leave or enter into the country or that they are at risk. Suspected persons or criminals are often on such lists because they pose a flight risk. In respect of family law, the main reason that a person might be placed on the watch list would usually be that the subject parent is suspected of removing or attempting to remove their child or children from the child’s or children's present place of residence, often against the wishes of other family members or in contravention of Family Court Orders. Proper legal advice from a Family Lawyer may be greatly beneficial to consider your individual circumstances and ensure that you are well advised, if you are affected by an Airport Watch List.

If you are currently involved in family law disputes, then there may be a risk that your child may be removed from the country by your partner or spouse. There are family laws in place to prevent children whose parents are involved in family law proceedings from being removed from Australia without the consent of the Court. Generally, the family law system is used for matters where there is an actual risk that the child may be removed from Australia. Family law essentially requires that a child who is subject to family law proceedings or a residence, care or contact Order specifying non-removal from Australia must not be removed from the Commonwealth of Australia; in some cases, exceptions apply where both parents consent and/or otherwise when Ordered by the Court. A qualified Family Lawyer could have regard to your circumstances and explain to you the various potential avenues if you think you may be affected by this issue.

Where an order that specifically restrains the travel of a child or children from Australia is in existence, it may be necessary to obtain another Court Order to permit travel regardless of the consent of the parents. To place a child's name or children's names on the watch list, you will usually be required to obtain a Court Order or an application for an immediate order (often referred to as a restraining or retention order) that directs the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to place the name of the child or children on the Family Law Watchlist. The direction from the Court must be specific and not implied. After receiving this document, you must provide a certified copy of the Court Order to the Australian Federal Police. Consultation with an experienced Family Lawyer can ensure you have appropriate Airport Watch List arrangements made, where necessary.

Where there is a risk that a child or children may be taken out of the country without one of the parents' consent, immediate action is reccommended. This may take the form of an ex parte Court Application - this is an application made by one party for Orders that affect another party who is not present at the proceedings. In most cases, such an application may be made in an expedited manner, as it is of great significance to ensure the protection of your child or children. Once an order is obtained, the usual process will be that the AFP must be immediately notified. If you as a parent suspect or are aware that the other parent wishes to take a child overseas and have concerns about this, then consulting a specialist Family Lawyer immediately is of paramount importance.

If you would like further information or wish to discuss your Airport Watch list matter with us, please do not hesitate to contact us by telephone on (02) 9233 4048 or by email to Please peruse our "Locations" tab to see our Head Office and other branch locations.

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This webpage (and any material or wording appearing on this webpage) is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute any Legal Advice. It does not take into account your objectives, your instructions or all of the relevant facts and/or circumstances. Navado accepts no responsibility to any person who relies on the information provided on this website. We further refer you to our Disclaimer.

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If you require assistance with a Family matter, you should make an appointment to see one of our Lawyers in one of the following locations:

  • Sydney
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  • Chatswood
  • Hurstville

Our Locations

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  • Family Lawyer Miranda
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  • Family Lawyer Bella Vista
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