The weather is finally starting to warm up and summer is almost here. Children have wrapped up the last few days of school and are looking forward to summer vacation. As a parent you may be putting the finishing touches on your summer travel plans. If you are divorced, divorcing, or traveling without the other parent, things can sometimes seem more complicated. The following are some tips to help make your summer travels go smoothly.
If you are already divorced or a parenting agreement has been entered, start with reviewing your parenting agreement to make sure you have met your minimal obligations such as selection and confirmation of travel dates, and notification of your itinerary to the children’s other parent. Regardless of what your agreement provides, or if you are not yet divorced, in order to avoid any travel issues (or objections from a former, or soon to be former, spouse), it is a good idea to take the following steps in preparation for international and domestic travel this summer:
1. International Travel:
a. Provide at least thirty (30) days’ notice (the more the better) to the non-traveling parent.
b. Include a general written itinerary which shows dates of travel, destination(s), flight numbers and times (if applicable), as well as contact addresses and phone numbers where the child and traveling parent can be reached while traveling. Even though nowadays most people have a cell phone that works overseas, make sure the other parent has a land line to contact the place where you will be staying and, if you are using an alternate cell phone, provide that number as well.
c. Make sure the passports for yourself and the child(ren) are up to date. As a general rule, passports should have at least six months of validity when traveling internationally. Most countries will not permit a traveler to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after the final day of travel.
d. Seek to obtain written consent from the non-traveling parent authorizing the international travel that is both notarized and witnessed. Written consent is mandatory for international travel with your child(ren). The consent should include the following information:
i. The child’s name, birthplace, and passport information.
ii. Permission from the non-traveling parent and his/her contact information.
iii. Pertinent identifier information regarding the traveling parent (i.e. name, contact information, parental role/responsibility/custody designation, passport information, etc.).
iv. Travel information, including the destination(s) and start/end dates for the trip. Consider building in a bit of flexibility for flight delays.
v. Any medical or special needs of the child.
e. Obtain a certified copy of each child’s birth certificate in addition to the passport to bring along.
f. Obtain any country specific items. For example, Canada requires copies of state issued IDs with the consent in the form of an affidavit.
2. Domestic Travel:
a. Provide at least seven (7) days’ notice, the more notice the better, to the non-traveling parent.
b. With the notice include a general written itinerary that includes at minimum, dates of travel, travel destinations(s), flight numbers and times (if applicable), and contact addresses and phone numbers where the child and traveling party can be reached while traveling.
c. Some airlines may require proof of age for children accompanying an adult. As a result, consider bringing a passport, certified birth certificate, state identification card, or driver’s license for each child.
With the exception of the consent, none of the above are per se hard and fast rules (unless mandated by your parenting agreement). However, they do provide some guidance to help you avoid or minimize travel problems with the non-traveling parent. Sufficient notice is suggested so that if an objection is going to be raised, you will have plenty of time to resolve the issue prior to the planned travel, which may include bringing the matter to court regarding any disputes such as execution of the consent, update of the passport or general consensus to the proposed the travel destination.
Notwithstanding the above, remember that every trip offers an exciting new adventure for parent and child alike. Here is wishing you safe, problem free, travels this summer - Bon Voyage!