International travel is an exciting opportunity for children and adults to experience other cultures and meet family and friends who live abroad. For a divorced parent traveling with one or more children under the age of 18, however, it presents some extra challenges. These days, advance planning is more vital than ever, whether it’s a quick vacation getaway or several weeks abroad.
Along with adhering to the parenting agreement and obtaining travel documents, parents must also make sure they and their children comply with current coronavirus pandemic travel requirements such as proof of vaccination, mask-wearing and obtaining negative COVID-19 tests before the flight to and from the U.S. The parent who is traveling should discuss risks with the parent staying home. They should also discuss what will happen if they need to quarantine, in the event they or a child tests positive for the virus or exhibit symptoms. Check with the CDC for the latest requirements for international travel.
With regards to co-parenting, the first step is to review the parenting agreement for any holiday or travel stipulations. With this information in hand, discuss your plans with the child’s other parent, and do the following:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 children, call us. We can help you arrange a trip that will create a lifetime of amazing memories!
With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact our team.
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