International travel can be an exciting opportunity for kids and adults to experience other cultures and new sights. However, for divorced parents traveling with a minor child, it presents some challenges too. Whether you’re thinking about a quick winter vacation getaway or going abroad for several weeks, there are special considerations. To avoid violating the terms of your parenting time agreement — and the law — advance planning and transparency are vital.
In our recent blog post, I reviewed the essential steps to making travel plans with a child under the age of 18. These recommendations go for international travel, too. The first step is to look over your parenting agreement for any holiday or travel stipulations, including if vacations are to alternate years. With this information in hand, you’ll then want to discuss your plans with the child’s other parent.
- Obtain Consent: If you share custody, you may have to obtain written, signed consent from the other parent that you may travel with your child to a specific destination(s) for the specified number of days or weeks. Failure to do so could impact your parenting agreement, or, in the worst-case scenario, result in charges of international kidnapping. The plans you draw up should say where you will stay, your modes of transportation, flight numbers, if applicable, and where the child can be reached. Your attorney can help make sure all the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed.
- Passport: When parents share custody, both parents’ signatures are required on a passport application for any child under the age of 16. Both parents must appear in person to apply. If only one parent can be present, the other parent may provide a signed consent form instead.
Visit the U.S. Department of State website for forms and complete instructions for acquiring your child’s passport.
- Letter of Consent: The U.S. Department of State recommends that a divorced parent who plans to travel abroad bring a letter of consent. Because laws and practices vary from one country to another, this letter could be useful to show airlines or customs officials if asked.
- Potential Restrictions: In addition, the traveling parent should also confirm the status of their own passport prior to travel to be sure there are no restrictions. Being delinquent on court-ordered child support payments involving an enforcement agency could result in the agency suspending their passport for non-payment.
- Rebalance Parental Time: Finally, if being out of the country will reduce the days the other parent has to spend with their child, come to an agreement on how the time will be made up. That plan should also be in writing to avoid any confusion down the road.
If you need help arranging to travel internationally with your kids, Raza & Jones, LLC, can assist. With a combined 30 years in family law, we can help you arrange a trip that will create a lifetime of memories. For questions, or to schedule a confidential consultation, call 314-449-8830.