Written by special contributor, Eric Tress
Going with your children on vacation is enjoyable, but after a divorce, it can be tricky. It’s no longer as easy as buying the tickets, packing the bags, grabbing your passports, and heading to the airport.
Why is it harder to travel abroad with your kids after a divorce?
United States authorities want to prevent situations where children are abducted by one parent and taken to a foreign country. Therefore, ex-spouses need to cooperate based on their divorce and custody agreement to ensure they are on the same page with regard to taking kids out of the country.
If you are divorced and would like to travel with your kids abroad, here are some things you should know.
Adhere to your parenting agreement
A parenting agreement is a child custody plan agreed upon by both parents. It includes such information as which parent should have the kids on which weekends and holidays. It can also help to iron out little things that can interfere with smooth co-parenting. If you have a parenting agreement, it will help with discussions when either of you wants to travel abroad with the kids. If you don’t have a parenting agreement, it is time to write one down. You can ask your respective attorneys to help or sit down as friends and put one together. Here is some information on how to create a parenting agreement.
Discuss any challenges and be flexible
Sometimes, it can be difficult to adhere to the parenting agreements because life is not predictable. For example, you may agree to have the kids on a specific weekend only for an emergency to pop up. At such times, communication comes in handy because it will help you come to an understanding with your co-parent on how to handle the situation. If you put your kids’ welfare first, you should both be able to accommodate each other’s needs.
It would be best if you talked in a civilized manner to agree on details such as when to travel with the kids, where they will stay, what to pack for them and when you expect to bring them back. This way, both of you are on the same page and your trip abroad will not be marred by disagreements.
Secure the necessary travel documents
If you want to travel abroad with your kids, they must have valid passports. If they don’t have passports already, you need to cooperate with your ex-spouse in order to get them. You can follow the procedure to apply for passports for your kids (under the age of sixteen) that is detailed here.
It’s important to note that kids over sixteen can apply for their own passports as long as one parent is aware they are applying for it and offers their consent either by accompanying the child or signing a consent form.
However, if one of the parents feels the other is likely to flee with the child, they can ask the courts to withdraw the child’s passport until any suspicions about the travel plans are put to rest.
You may also need visas for your children to travel abroad; therefore, ensure you and your ex-spouse apply for them in time. If there are other documents required, such as vaccination certificates, you will need to obtain those, as well.
Provide adequate information
You can’t just pick up your kids from your ex-partner, put them on a plane, and go abroad with them as a divorced parent. Such behavior will get you in trouble with the law as they may accuse you of kidnapping your children.
Therefore, you must give your ex-spouse enough documentation giving details of your trip. These documents will inform your ex-spouse of your plans so that he/she can feel secure about the safety of the children and approve your travel plans. Also, ensure you provide these details as early as possible before the trip so that your ex-spouse has enough time to verify any information.
If you’ve had a difficult divorce, you may need to provide these details to the courts to get permission to travel with your kids abroad. Some of the information required includes :
- Your travel schedule: Which places do you plan to visit, and on which dates?
- Your transport itinerary: What are you going to travel with? When you get to your destination, how will you move around?
- Details of any other people traveling with you: Are you going to travel with your current partner or perhaps some friends or family? Your co-parent needs to know who will be around the children during your trip.
- A list of places you plan to visit: Where are you going to take the kids? Write down the exact locations and any activities you plan to engage the kids in during the trip.
- A list of places you plan to stay at with your kids: Are you going to stay in hotels, or are you going to stay at a friend’s home? If so, give the address of the premises. It will help if you can provide phone numbers of these places, too.
Such information will go a long way towards earning the trust of your co-parent. They will also help you get a “yes” from the courts so be as transparent as possible.
Set up a surety bond
If your co-parent doesn’t want you to travel abroad with the kids for reasons best known to them, you can set up a Ne Exeat Bond as security to make them feel at ease.
A Ne Exeat Bond is supposed to ensure you comply with your custody agreement while traveling. It will show your co-parent that you mean to keep to the rules while away with the kids. A lawyer can help you secure a Ne Exeat Bond if you need it.
You could also discuss with your ex-spouse about adding a travel section to your custody agreement. This could make it easier to plan future travel. If you plan to bring other people on the trip with your kids, they must be on an approved list that you and your ex-spouse have compiled.
Choose the right activities
Many ex-couples disagree when it comes to child custody and travel because of welfare concerns. If you want to travel with your kids, your co-parent needs to know you will engage them in beneficial activities and maintain a healthy lifestyle. If you take the kids away and let them indulge in junk food all the time or expose them to dangerous situations, your co-parent is unlikely to trust you again to travel with the children.
To ensure your future trips with your kids are smooth, focus on educational, fun activities, feed them healthy meals as much as possible, and keep them safe. If you do that, any future trips should be easier to organize.
These are a few tips to help you arrange a smooth trip abroad with your kids after the divorce. If you choose to make your children’s best interest your top priority, coming to an agreement with your ex-spouse on traveling with your kids abroad should be easier to navigate.