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FLAST CASE SUMMARY: Suk & Fulham 2019: Costs order for application of release child's passport

Suk & Fulham [2019] FamCA 53 (8 February 2019)

FACTS:

  • 22 February 2017, final parenting orders were determined that stipulated both parents were allowed to travel overseas with the children whilst they were holidaying with that parent. The orders necessitated the parent to specify no less than 28 days’ notice of the travel.
  • The Court has the children’s passports. Both parties must provide permission to the release of the passports to permit travel. The wife requested the release of the child’s passport to enable travel. The husband for the most part did not respond to the proper notice/requests for the release of passport. The wife then had to file an application for release of the passport.
  • 19 October 2018, the wife contacted the father and informed him of her intentions to travel with the almost 17-year-old daughter during school holidays. The father did not respond.
  • On a number of occasions, the wife’s solicitor wrote to the husband’s solicitor specifying all of the required information relating to the travel. There was no response.
  • 1 January 2019, the wife contacted the husband directly requesting him to release the passport so that a visa could be attained. This time he responded that he was not comfortable with where they were travelling and was concerned who would supervise the child whilst the mother was at conference. The father did not reply to the mother’s response.
  • 10 January 2019 the wife filed an application seeking the release of the passport.
  • 11 January 2019, the husband consented to the release of the passport in court.
  • The wife has now filed an application for costs, the husband contests the application.

ISSUE:

Should the husband be liable for costs for failing to release the passport to the wife’s proper notice, in compliance with the orders?

HELD:

It was determined the husband must pay the wife’s professional costs of $1,000 together with the filing fee of $120 for the application to release the passport on 10/01/2019.

The court established it was appropriate for the husband to pay the costs; the mother had no choice but to file the application to release the passports due to the father not responding to the requests. The court states the fathers conduct was unreasonable given the mother gave him many opportunities to release the passports with proper notice, the mother was entitled to travel with the child in accordance with the current orders.

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