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Traveling internationally with children when divorced: What you should know

However the common main helper of all divorced co-parents regarding the issue of traveling internationally with the child is their Parenting Agreement.

Although divorce is definitely a tough challenge, nowadays, there are a lot of ways of how to shorten the process and make it easier. Do-it-yourself and collaborative divorce, online preparation services, mediation, and other non-competitive methods of arranging a marriage dissolution usually can help not only to save the divorcing spouses' money and time, but also to keep the smooth and friendly relationship between the ex-partners. An ability to communicate calmly and peacefully after a divorce is essential if the divorced couple has common kids because the parents will likely have to meet each other and make some children-related decisions jointly. Children have not to be the victims of the parents' mistakes and quarrels, thus arranging a divorce in a way which would be in the child's best interest is, for sure, both parent's liability.

How can this "best interest of the child" be seen in practice? Parents must agree on the child's residence, school and way of life, and ensure close and permanent contact with both parents(unless it was proven that it might be harmful to a kid), no matter which of them has primary custody. And a question which is one of the most challenging and tricky for the former spouses who have not a clear and straightforward agreement is traveling out of the country with the child.

Parenting Agreement matters
Every family and every divorce case is unique. Divorced parent traveling with a child out of the country is dependent on the type of custody that was awarded in a divorce proceeding. Speaking of sole custody, in case if both physical and legal custody were awarded to the one parent, the custodian is not supposed to report anything to the non-custodial parent. But these cases are quite rare – most often, at least legal custody is shared between two parties. This means that no matter who provides a home and care to the kid, both parents must consider and decide all the more significant child-related issues jointly.

Shared parenting scheme can also vary greatly for different couples. However, anyway, the common main helper of all divorced co-parents regarding the issue of traveling internationally with the child is their Parenting Agreement. This document is crucial, as it regulates all the typical conditions and circumstances concerning the parenting after divorce along with all the possible rules, details and situations which you may want to outline and establish for your particular case. Surely, the parenting agreement attaches both rights and obligations to each party, and you should respect your agreement and comply with it.

As for travelings with the kids, the parenting plan may contain information on specific time periods when each parent has the right to take an out-of-country vacation with the child. This is particularly true for the most popular vacation seasons and holidays (for example, Christmas season, Easter, summer vacation and so on). For the divorced parents who try to share the parenting, it is better to alternate the custody over these holidays year to year.

So, in general, reaching and creating a successful working agreement with your ex-partner is one of the crucial things which can help you to arrange maybe not spontaneous, but at least trouble-free vacation with your child without arguing with the second parent.

Documentation, plans and permissions
The second step is to sort out the bureaucracy issues and prepare all the required documents, papers, and permissions correctly. Having the proper paperwork for you and your kid is essential, and it should be prepared in advance for your peace of mind.

Regardless of where you are going to travel, thoroughly learn your agreements, schedules and trip plans. What does it mean? You should list names of the people who travel with you or those who will host you, outline your route and document travel schedule, point out the place of stay, give all the contact information which may be needed, as well as some other important details depending on the character of the trip you have planned. Briefly, it must be clear where and with whom the child will be during the trip. The other parent should receive this information before the trip and have permanent access to it.

Make sure that all members of your trip have proper travel documents. While on domestic flights within the US, people must produce just the right form of identification at the airport checkpoint (and underage travelers do not need to show any ID), international flights regulations are more tricky.

Traveling out of the USA all the airplane passengers have to produce identification (passport) regardless of age.

All children are must have a valid passport to travel internationally.

If the kid does not yet have a passport, their parents who share custody (joint legal custody) should consent to obtain it. So if that is the case, learn the US Department of State rules concerning this question and gather the required permissions and papers in advance.

Parents from different countries
Traveling with kids is a common thing among divorced families so you should prepare but not despair. Moreover, a lot of children now are dual citizenships, or their parents live in different countries. As every child deserves to meet with parents, different distance should not be an obstacle.

Maybe the most difficult possible problem occurs is non-compliance with the custody agreement while the child is abroad. This may include limiting the contact of the child with the second parent, or (in some most problematic cases), a ban on returning home after the trip.

Key facts:

  • At the border, the child and the parent will require a passport. In case the custody agreement is joint, parents must complete the relevant documentation for the trip.
  • If the child is over sixteen years old, he can sign all the documents and obtain a passport independently.
  • If one of the parents does not allow a trip with the child, the second parent interested in the trip needs permission. 
  • The ban on travel from one of the parents can be contested in court. The thing is that in some states, the consent of both parents is required for permission to the trip, so you should check your particular state's rules.
  • Traveling out of the US is also possible with a third party (for example, grandmother), but this also depends on the valid parenting agreement and state law peculiarities.