Avoiding Post-Divorce Travel Disputes

Normally, a  divorce decree or a child custody order will outline the amount of visitation each parent will have with their child, including overnights, weekends, school breaks, and holidays. However, international travel may cause heated disagreement between divorced parents. If your order does not address passport provisions, then both parents will have to cooperate to obtain a passport for their child.

Applying for a passport for a child under the age of 16 requires written consent from both parents and verification of parentage. However, only one parent may apply for the child’s passport if he or she is able to show proof of sole custody or has a court order giving them the exclusive right to apply for the passport. If you are concerned about international child abduction, you can enroll your child in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program, which verifies whether the parental consent requirement was met and notifies a parent if a passport is requested in his or her child’s name.

When a child already has a passport and the parents have joint custody, it is important to address which parent will have the right to maintain possession of the kid’s passport. If you are the parent who will not have the right to maintain the passport, then ensure the order obligates that the passports be turned over to you within a certain number of days from your formal request.

Moreover, if your ex does not abide by the terms in the order you can hold that parent financially responsible for the costs incurred due to that person's noncompliance. For instance, the expense of nonrefundable tickets and nonrefundable deposits for lodging. It is understandable for parents not to trust each other much after separation. To ease a parent’s safety concerns, you can put provisions in an order to communicate with your child while he or she is traveling abroad. You can designate a specific time to talk, just make sure to consider time zone changes.

If you and your ex have a healthy relationship built on mutual trust, then you will notify each other of your travel itinerary. However, if you do not, then you can request notification of those travel details before the departure from the United States, such the location of the vacation, the length of stay, and emergency contact information.

If your divorce decree or custody order is missing a passport or travel provision, you can always modify the order to include such language and hold the other parent accountable. Consult an attorney at Sanchez and Flores to discuss your options. Your international adventure awaits!

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