Do Parents Need Permission from the other parent to Take their Children on an International Vacation?

Parental Permissions for international travel with another parent

One parent wants to take the child out of the country, and the question presents itself whether that parent needs permission of the other parent to go.

The above depends upon what custody agreement is already in place, or the permission granted to each parent by the other parent. If there is no divorce agreement or prior Order of the Court, the problems become greater and either written permission is needed, or a court proceeding must be imitated to allow that travel.

Does Your Custody Agreement Address the Issue of Travel?

Sometimes court-approved custody agreements address travel. This can be the case if one parent has primary custody or if both parents share custody.

Vacation clauses in custody agreements might set limits on what parents can and cannot do or they might provide instructions for notice of travel. For instance, one parent might be required to notify the other parent concerning all out-of-state travel or to get permission before traveling out-of-state with the child, or no such provision exists.

If permission is not granted by the non-traveling parent, court permission would be required for the traveling parent to legally take the child out of the state, and the parent could petition the court.

If there is nothing in the custody agreement that addresses travel or vacations, or there is no divorce or agreement, either parent would have permission to take the child out of state, but within the confines of his or her normal custody time. For instance, if a parent has custody of a child during the weekends, an out-of-state vacation would need to occur within that 48 hour time duration. Should both the custodial and non-custodial parent agree to extended travel, the court would have no reason for intervention.

If the custodial parent does not agree to an extended visitation and/or travel, the non-custodial parent has the option of requesting a custody modification from the court. There’s usually an uptick in custody modification requests during the summer months when children are out of school and parents want to take them for an extended summer vacation.

In most cases, when a parent has concerns about the other parent traveling with the child and not returning, there is a court order addressing vacationing and travel. If a court order about travel is violated, the accusing parent should notify police and request assistance with return of the child.

International Travel with a Parent

Traveling internationally with a child can be a bit more complicated when both parents are not in agreement concerning the travel plans.

The United States does not have exiting controls that monitor outbound international travel, however, the majority of other Countries do have such mechanisms in place. Exiting the United States with your child is rather easy but entering another Country will usually require permission. Exiting the country that you have traveled to with a child requires proving the child’s identity and providing documentation proving that you have permission to do so. Essentially, showing that both of the child’s parents have agreed to the travel arrangements.

There are very few instances in which a parent can legally leave the country with his or her child without the consent of the child’s other parent, even when the traveling parent is the custodial parent. These restrictions were created to reduce of out-of-country parental kidnapping.

Like adults, children must have a passport before they can travel by air to a non-contiguous country. In order to be granted a passport, the US State Department requires all children under the age of 16 to have permission from both parents. Both parents will need to apply for their child’s passport in person or one parent may apply with signed and notarized permission from the other parent.

For more information on obtaining a passport for a minor child, refer to this information from the US Department of State.

If you are traveling throughout North America by car you’ll need to show both your child’s birth certificate and a written statement verifying your child has permission from his or her other parent before crossing out of the United States and into Canada or Mexico

Parents with sole custody are granted permission to travel out of country with their children without permission from the child’s other parent. However, to do so, the parent with sole custody must show the court-ordered custody arrangement to obtain the child’s passport. A copy of the court order would also be needed when traveling to Canada or Mexico without a passport.

As part of all our final marital settlement agreement(s) unless our client(s) choose not to, Gourvitz & Gourvitz, LLC, always inserts agreed on language with respect to domestic and international travel. We even go as far as to make a distinction between signatory Countries to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction and non-signatory Countries.

If you have questions about traveling with your child or you are concerned your child’s other parent might attempt to travel without the appropriate permission, an attorney familiar with parental custody laws can help. For more information or to speak to someone about parental abduction, contact Gourvitz & Gourvitz, LLC at (973) 467-3200 or (212) 586-1700.

Gourvitz & Gourvitz LLC.

New Jersey
505 Morris Avenue
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Springfield, New Jersey 07081
Telephone: (973) 467-3200
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142 West 57th St
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New York, New York 10019
Telephone: (212) 586-1700

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