If you are a divorced parent of a minor child, there is a good chance that you may wish to travel with your child at some point. Traveling to a neighboring city to visit family shouldn’t be a problem; however, what if you wish to travel farther. Specifically, what if you want to take your child out of the country, either for vacation or for a permanent relocation? Do you need permission from your child’s other parent or can you make your travel plans without a care in the world? A Murfreesboro child custody lawyer from Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explain the rules for leaving the country with your child.
What, When, Where, and Why?
When a divorced parent of a minor child wants to take that child outside of the immediate geographic area where the child lives, the law considers a number of factors when determining if traveling is allowed and, if so, under what conditions. For example, answers to the following questions will be relevant:
- What exactly is your travel plan? When do you plan to travel? How far away is your planned travel? Who will be going, how are you traveling, and how long will you be gone?
- Where are you going? Are you leaving the United States?
- Why are you traveling? Are you taking a family vacation, going on a business trip, or relocating permanently?
Who Has Custody of the Child?
This is the most important factor when it comes to traveling outside of the United States for several reasons. Do you have sole custody of your child? If so, traveling outside the U.S. will be simpler; however, you may still need to get permission from the non-custodial parent. If you have joint custody, or you are the non-custodial parent, you will definitely need permission from the other parent.
State, Federal, and International Law
Anytime a minor child who is a U.S. citizen travels outside of the United States you must consider how state, federal, and even international laws may impact your plans. State laws govern divorce procedures and issues, including who has custody over a minor child. When you went through the divorce process, you likely had to create a Parenting Plan. That Parenting Plan should contain a good deal of information relating to custody, visitation, and even geographical restrictions. Some Parenting Plans specifically prohibit, or allow, a parent to travel with the child outside of the U.S. Most plans will also address the issue of relocation beyond a designated geographical area. If the terms of your divorce address travel outside of the U.S., you must abide by those terms as they became orders of the court once the divorce was finalized. As such, if travel is prohibited, you will need written permission from the other parent and/or a court order authorizing the travel. If you have sole custody of your child, and there is nothing in the terms of your divorce that prohibits travel outside of the U.S., you will not need permission from the other parent and/or the court. If you are uncertain whether permission from the other parent and/or the court is required, consult with an experienced divorce attorney so you do not find yourself in violation of a court order or state law.
Taking a minor child outside of the U.S. also requires you to obtain a passport for your child. To obtain a passport, you will need the child’s other parent’s permission unless you have sole custody of the child. The only exception to this requirement is if you cannot locate the other parent. In that case, you must file a “Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances” when you apply for a passport. This form is scrutinized carefully and additional information may be requested to prevent international abductions. If you must rely on this option to obtain a passport for your child make sure to apply several months ahead of time as it may take additional times to get the passport approved.
Contact a Murfreesboro Child Custody Lawyer
If you wish to take your minor child out of the country, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro child custody lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to ensure that you do not run afoul of state, federal, or international law. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.