International travel can be a great opportunity to explore the world, learn about new places and connect with loved ones who live abroad. Unfortunately, traveling out of the country with your child after divorce can be particularly complex. What might you need to consider when planning a trip abroad for your family?
How does your parenting plan address travel?
First and foremost, it is important to consider the agreements and court orders that are in place with your co-parent. Your agreement or court order may include specific instructions for travel that you should consider as you make plans. Some of the many questions answered by your parenting plan or order may include:
- Do you need the written consent of your child’s other parent to travel out of the state or out of the country? Even if written consent is not required by your agreement, you may want to have documentation of their consent ready as a precaution.
- Are there specific time periods when you can travel with your child?
- How far in advance do you need to inform your child’s other parent of your travel dates, your destination and other details about your travel?
- How will you handle visitation or missed parenting time while you travel? Will you reschedule that missed time or connect via virtual visitation while you travel?
Not following the terms of your parenting plan or court order can have serious consequences. One particularly serious result of not obtaining the other parent’s permission to travel is that you could be in contempt of court, or worse, face parental kidnapping charges.
Even if the court order or parenting plan does not require it, you should nonetheless provide your co-parent with information about your travel plans with the children. This information may include where you are staying, how you will travel, the dates and time of travel, flight/train/bus numbers, who you will travel with and what activities you will pursue during your trip.
It is also important to consider whether your child already has a passport or needs to apply for one. Typically, children under the age of 16 need both parents present to apply for their passports, meaning that you and the other parent will need to work together during the application process.
Travel can be a rewarding and enriching experience for children. Careful planning and parental communication should allow both sets of parents to provide these experiences for their children.