The 2008 case of Dart v Graham dealt with the issue of a father wanting to take his children on an overseas holiday to Bali for his wedding. The mother opposed the children travelling to Bali due to advice issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) warning travellers to Indonesia that the country has risks associated with travelling there. The question subsequently arose of whether the attendance of the children at the wedding was of a degree or potential risk to the children such as to outweigh the benefit of such attendance?
Due to the lack of consent from the mother permitting the children to travel to Bali, it was left to a court to determine whether, upon balancing the risks and benefits associated, the children should be permitted to travel to Bali for their father’s wedding.
In reaching its conclusion, the court placed emphasis on the right of children to have a “meaningful relationship” with each of their parents. The judge concluded that it was “very important” that the children attend their father’s wedding, as a meaningful relationship “grows out of the participation of the father in the children’s lives and the children in their father’s life” The judge went on to say that a “failure to attend might well be seen as an exclusion from the father’s new life and a diminishment of the importance of the children to him in favour of new relationships”.
The judge also noted that the mother had conceded that there was love and affection between the father and children and that she did not object to the children attending their father’s wedding per se, but rather objected to her children (on grounds of their safety) travelling to Bali for the wedding.
After determining that the best interests of the children would be served by their attendance at their father’s wedding, the question for the judge then became one of whether the benefit of attending was outweighed by the potential risk that would be faced by the children by travelling to Bali.
The judge concluded, after considering the particular circumstances of the case, that the risk did not outweigh the benefit. The judge took into consideration the fact that there was no intention to visit places which were subject to civil unrest and/or where there was a likelihood of any protest or demonstration occurring. Also, he noted the fact that the father had “managed the family’s security in Jakarta through troubled times successfully” when the family had lived in Indonesia previously and that the father intended “to exercise a high level of vigilance and personal security awareness at all times in respect of himself and his children and his family”.
The father was subsequently given permission to take his children to Bali, Indonesia. In the event that DFAT upgraded their travel warnings regarding travel to Indonesia, each parent had liberty to apply on 24 hours notice to the Court and the other party for variation of the court orders.
For assistance with Family Law matters, phone Dominic Wilson, Managing Partner of Craddock Murray Neumann, on (02) 82684000. We have Family Lawyers who are certified by the Law Society of New South Wales as Accredited Specialists in Family Law.