International Travel After Divorce
After a divorce, parents, and children have to adjust to spending time together according to a placement schedule. One way for families to enjoy their parenting time is by taking vacations together. Although embarking on a trip may have once been a simple matter of choosing a destination and making reservations, doing so after divorce is more complicated. Making these travel arrangements with children can become even more complex when one parent wants to take the children out of the country. When a divorced parent plans to travel internationally with their children, there are numerous divorce laws to navigate.
United States citizens are required to have a valid passport for international travel. For a child's passport, they must apply in person with one or both parents along with evidence of parentage (usually a birth certificate). If the parents share custody of the child, it is preferred that both parents be present, but one can appear as long as the absent parent completes a specific consent form, has it notarized, and gives it the other parent to present at the time of application. If the other parent cannot be located, there is another form which the applying parent can present to seek approval of the child’s passport. Passports for children under sixteen are only valid for five years. To renew a passport for a child under sixteen, the parent or parents must go through the same initial application process for the child to reapply.
Although there are certainly procedures in place to get a passport for a child, sometimes parents will not be able to agree on where the other parent can travel with their child. In these cases, a passport will not be issued by the United States Passport office without the objecting parent’s consent.
Disagreements about International Travel
When parents who share custody cannot agree on getting their child a passport, it is probable that at some point they will bring the issue before the court. Depending on the objections provided by the disagreeing parent, the court will either order that the passport be permitted or that neither parent will be permitted to obtain one. When a parent refuses to consent to a passport but does not have a valid reason, the court is likely to side with the other parent. However, if the objecting parent can demonstrate that traveling out of the country with the other parent presents a risk to the child, such as a threat that the child will not be returned to the United States, the court may side with the disagreeing parent. The court may also order that any existing passports be held in trust pending the outcome of the dispute or order that they be held in the custody of a particular party.
Ideally, agreements regarding travel will be negotiated between the parties during the divorce process and be explicitly stated in their final order. Anticipating possible international travel and coming to an agreement beforehand can help you avoid having to return to court and ensure that your future travel plans can be made without unnecessary conflict.
Understanding how international travel will take place after divorce involves carefully examining your situation and various aspect of the law. An experienced family law attorney can provide you with the guidance you need as you decide how to plan for your family’s future visits abroad. We have extensive experience in assisting our clients in understanding how to prepare for future family travel. Call us today to set up a consultation so we can talk about your next steps.
Want to learn more about Wisconsin divorce law? Contact Karyn Youso, Wisconsin’s family law attorney and mediator in practice for over 27 years.