Traveling with children after a divorce can be complicated. Before making arrangements to travel abroad with children, one should take into account several factors. Taking children out of the country without the consent of the other parent can have serious consequences. Traveling overseas without consent can be the basis of a child abduction case and may also lead to other legal penalties. Therefore, before making international travel plans, be sure to consult the custody arrangement made in the divorce decree, get formal written consent from co-parent, and obtain passports, travel visas and other travel documents.
Divorce Decree and Custody
Divorced parents are not able to travel on a whim, especially when planning to travel abroad. In a divorced family situation, parents typically have negotiated parenting time and as part of their custody arrangement. The divorce decree will indicate whether both parents have joint custody, or one parent has sole custody while the other has visitation rights. If the divorce decree grants parents joint custody, both parents have equal rights over the child’s custody. One parent may oppose the other parent taking the child abroad.
Also, the decree will provide guidelines regarding travel planning with the children. Before booking your trip, refer to the divorce decree and the guidelines provided therein so that you are in compliance. Refer to the details outlined regarding whose turn it is to take the children on vacation.
Often, the parenting time order may have already allocated times and holidays that each parent has custody of the children. For example, it may have been determined that Thanksgiving break will be spent with one parent while spring break will be spent with the other in a given year. Ensure that your travel arrangement coincides with the parenting plan. Otherwise, negotiate with the other parent and get their written consent.
When Your Co-Parent Will Not Cooperate
If the parent does not cooperate, it is advisable not to escalate the matter. However, if making the trip is crucial due to a family emergency or milestone, consult an attorney to ascertain all options available. In an extreme situation, a parent may need to involve the court and seek a court order to obtain permission to travel abroad with the children.
Once it is determined that the parent has cooperation from the other parent to travel abroad with the children, it is important to ensure that the children have appropriate documentation to travel. All children traveling internationally from the U.S. need a passport.
When filing for a U.S. passport on behalf of children, signatures from both parents are required. Both parents must also appear in person to the passport office to apply for the children’s passport. If the other parent is unable to attend, that parent needs to provide written consent. If the other parent is not cooperative, the Passport office will require a court order granting the parent permission to apply for the passport.
It is also a good idea to have a letter of consent from the other parent along with the children’s passport so that there is no doubt that the child is traveling with consent as officials in the foreign country or airports may require it. Furthermore, depending on the country, an appropriate visa may be required.
Also, it is advisable to communicate the travel schedule and contact information with the non-traveling parent. Keeping the other parent in the loop regarding the travel itinerary will minimize chances for conflict.
Consequences of Traveling With Child Without Consent
If a parent fails to obtain consent from the other parent and travel abroad with the child anyway, that parent may be exposed to legal action. The non-consenting parent can bring an action for a child abduction case with the Department of State. The objecting parent may also have to file a police report.
Although traveling with a child in a divorced family can be more complicated, it does not have to limit the parent from creating memories with the child and visiting new places. It is important that divorced parents try to cooperate with each other for the wellbeing of the children involved and resolve issues amicably.
Somerville Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Provide Guidance Regarding International Travel With Children
If you need guidance regarding traveling with your children, do no hesitate to consult a Somerville child custody lawyer at Lyons & Associates, P.C. to guide you. For a free consultation, contact us online or call 908-575-9777. Our offices are located in Somerville and Morristown, where we serve clients in Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Short Hills, Rockaway, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.