International Matrimonial Law

Sharing custody and planning a summer trip abroad with your child? Be pro-active

By June 13, 2016 No Comments

By: Betty Moore Sandler, Fellow, International Academy of Family Lawyers

Are you planning to travel internationally with your child this summer to visit relatives? If you share custody of your child with a former spouse, it is vitally important you take pro-active steps to obtain permission well before booking tickets.

Your trip could be delayed or you could be suspected of abduction if you travel without the proper documentation, even if your intentions and plans are genuine. The strict requirements protect children from kidnapping and international custody dispute situations.

The International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act of 1993 makes it a federal felony to remove a child from the United States with intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights.

The documentation required for your child to travel beyond U.S. borders with one parent (divorced or not) varies by country, so consult with U.S. Department of State resources for detailed information. At a minimum you should be prepared to present:

  • Your child’s valid passport. If he doesn’t have one, both parents’ signatures are required on the passport application.

  • A signed consent form from the other parent for this particular trip. Having the form notarized is highly recommended. Using the International Travel Child Consent Form, provided here, is ideal, however a simple handwritten letter with all the required information would also suffice.

How do you increase the chances for obtaining permission with minimal confllict?

  • Discuss the trip with your former spouse as a proposition, not a foregone conclusion.

  • Be specific about your purpose and proposed leaving and return dates, accommodations, and how you and the child could be reached.

  • Offer to provide copies of the airline itineraries, proving round trip travel has been purchased, as well as the address and contact information of your accommodations.

  • Provide a cell phone and international coverage for your child’s use while overseas so the other parent can reach the child directly and vice versa.

  • Suggest a GPS tracking device could be placed on your child’s cell phone.

  • Have a consent form available for review

  • As a last resort, you may want to offer to post bond.

Despite your best efforts, the other parent may not consent to your child traveling overseas with you. If this occurs, it is imperative you seek legal counsel experienced in international family law before proceeding on the trip. Serious consequences can result if you travel with you child without your former spouse’s cooperation.

Your attorney can assist with obtaining a court order to allow the travel abroad or a waiver of consent for passport signature, among other legal options.

For more information about international travel arrangements for you and your child, contact Betty Moore Sandler, Fellow, International Academy of Family Lawyers, at Nichols Zauzig Sandler, P.C. 703.492-4200.

DISCLAIMER: The results of every case depend on factors unique to that case, and Nichols Zauzig Sandler, P.C. does not guarantee or predict results in similar cases