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Taking Your Children Out of the Country

travel and child custody

If you are divorced and have a custody agreement that allows you to take your children on vacation, you may one day want to take them somewhere beyond the borders of the United States. Normally, parents have the right to take their children anywhere, but when you are divorced there are special rules in place that govern taking your children overseas.

The reason that these rules are in place is that there has been a disturbing increase in parents absconding with children to avoid paying child support or to deny the other parent visitation rights. In many cases, it is difficult or impossible to extradite these parents or force them to return the children to the United States. Because of this problem, laws have been enacted that make it a crime to take a child out of the country without both parents’ permission.

What Must I Do To Take My Child Abroad?

If you are planning a trip abroad and want to take your child, there are steps you should take to ensure that you follow the law. These steps include:

  • Secure written permission from the other parent. The fastest and easiest way to ensure that you follow the law regarding overseas trips with your child is to secure the other parent’s permission in writing to take the child out of the country. Write a simple letter that states that the other parent understands that you will be taking your children abroad, the dates you will be gone and the places you will visit. Have your former spouse sign the letter; make two copies and keep one in your possession at all times while you keep one at home. Give your former spouse a copy as well.
  • If your spouse refuses, speak to an attorney. Your attorney may be able to help you negotiate with your former spouse or file a petition with the court to allow you to take your children abroad.
  • Get your child a passport. You must have a passport for each of your children if you travel abroad. Begin the planning process early and ensure that your child has all his or her paperwork in order.

Note that your child may need a passport, and you may need permission from your ex-spouse, even if you simply take a cruise or travel for a weekend to Mexico.

If you have questions about child custody, speak to the attorneys at the Men’s Legal Center today.