Can You Take the Kids Out of the Country?

Can You Take the Kids Out of the Country?

When the parents of minor children get divorced in Tennessee one parent is typically awarded primary physical custody of the minor children of the marriage. While a divorce decree can settle many issues relating to custody and visitation with the children, issues frequently come up after the divorce is final. For example, can you take the kids out of the country? If you have custody of minor children and wish to take them out of the country it is imperative that you understand and obey all of the relevant laws concerning your intended move or trip. Failing to do so could result in serious consequences up to, and including, loss of custody of your children.

It cannot be stressed enough that any time you plan to take the children out of the country, even just for a short trip, you should consult with your Tennessee family law attorney first to ensure that you are in compliance with all the latest applicable state and federal laws.

Whether you intend to leave the country for a short period of time on business or pleasure or intend to actually move out of the country makes a huge difference when determining what is required to take children out of the country. Moving the children more than 100 miles from the non-custodial parent requires you to notify the other parent in writing at least 60 days prior to the move. The notice must contain the following information:

  • Location of proposed new residence;
  • Reasons for proposed relocation; and
  • Statement that the other parent may file a petition in opposition to the move within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice.

If the other parent objects to the move by filing a petition with the court, a hearing will be scheduled to discuss the proposed move. Failing to follow these procedures will likely result in contempt of court at the very least and possibly a charge of parental kidnapping at the worst.

If you only plan to leave the country for a short trip you will still need the other parent’s permission because your child will need a passport. Obtaining a passport for a minor requires the consent of both parents except in exceptional circumstances. As a general  rule, unless you do not know where the other parent is and have had no contact with him or her for some time, you are required to obtain consent either by bringing the other parent with you to apply for the passport or by having the other parent sign a notarized form giving consent for the passport.

If you have any additional questions regarding custody or visitation of minor children, consult with an experienced Tennessee family law attorney.

Dinah Michael