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Traveling Internationally With Children When Divorced

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In cases involving the custody or parenting time of a child, a parent may want to take a child on vacation or travel outside the United States without the second parent’s knowledge or consent. Nevertheless, international travel with a child requires consent from the other parent. Traveling with a minor child, without the other parent’s consent, may lead to an international child abduction case or perhaps some other lawful implications if the proper legal steps are not followed. Parents should know their legal rights and understand the orders issued in their individual case. It is important to understand state and federal legal regulations regarding international travel with children.

Terms Of A Parenting Time Order

The parents’ parenting time order usually governs each parent’s rights regarding action taken with or without the other parent’s permission. If parents share decision-making authority over the child, each parent has a right to resist major decisions regarding the minor child’s life. In some instances, a parent may resist the other parent taking a child away from the country for a vacation or relocation. Furthermore, the terms of the parents’ parenting time order may specifically forbid vacation or relocation without the permission of the other parent. In instances where a trip infringes on the other parent’s legally specified time with the children, the order may be clear that without permission from that parent, the trip will not be permitted during the other parent’s time. However, even if the trip takes place only during your allocated parenting time, it is good practice to obtain a signed consent from the other parent that includes logistical details such as the dates of travel, specific locations of travel and contact information. If you and the other parent have agreed to any “make-up parenting time,” you should also confirm that in writing. If you anticipate problems obtaining a signed consent, talk with an attorney as soon as possible. If problems occur, contact an experienced family law mediator and seek assistance from the mediator to work out a solution. In case the other parent opposes the international travel, a parent intending to travel with the minor child would have to acquire a court order or could face costly legal implications.

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Laws For International Travel

Requirements For Passport Issuance

To travel abroad, a child requires a passport. U.S. laws regarding passport issuance require both parents’ signatures on the application form submitted on behalf of a child under the age of 16. Both parents must appear in person to apply for their child’s passport. If only one parent can appear in person to apply for the child’s passport, the other parent may provide a signed consent form. If only one parent would like to apply for the child’s U.S. passport and the other parent does not agree, the parent applying for the passport generally must show a court order confirming sole custody of the child. However, a child who qualifies for dual citizenship may receive a foreign passport in addition to a U.S. passport. The U.S. Department of State does not oversee the application procedures and passport issuance laws of other nations. In addition, it is important that the traveling parent confirm the status of their passport prior to travel to ensure there are no restrictions on their passport. This is especially true in instances where the traveling parent is delinquent on court ordered child support payments involving the child support enforcement agency, as the child support enforcement agency can suspend the passport for non-payment of child support.

Letter Of Consent For International Travel

The U.S. Department of State suggests that a parent who plans to travel abroad without the child’s other parent obtain a letter of consent. The entry and departure requirements for travelers often vary from one airport to another and from one destination to another. Under some circumstances, an airline employee or immigration official may ask to see signed consent from the child’s other parent before allowing a child to leave the country.

Consequences Of Travel Without Parental Consent

If a divorced parent takes a child out of the country without the other parent’s consent, the other parent may be able to open an international parental child abduction case. The U.S. Department of State handles international child kidnapping through the Office of Children’s Issues. In addition, a custodial parent may need to file a local police report and ask law enforcement to enter the minor’s information into the National Crime Information Center, a federal database. The parent may also benefit from consulting with a family law attorney about enforcing the terms of the parenting order.

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