As parents we all know that traveling with our children during the summer is an often rewarding, although sometimes stressful endeavor. Summer travel can involve going to visit grandma within the State of Florida or can also involve travel outside of the country. If you’ve been divorced and you’re planning to travel with your children this summer, make sure that you follow the following steps:
- Review your judgment as soon as you decide you want to travel. Every marital settlement agreement and/or divorce judgment should contain provisions for travel, requirements for prior notice to identify vacation dates, and a requirement to provide a travel itinerary. The standard parenting plan form in Florida requires these provisions. Make sure that you comply with all of these requirements in writing, well in advance of the deadline set out in your Marital Settlement Agreement or in the Final Judgment. By doing so, you are certifying your right to travel with your children during your allotted time period. Failure to do so may result in an objection by the other parents and an expensive trip to court to resolve the issue.
- Every one of your children should have a valid, up-to-date passport. If you are traveling outside of the United States with your child, then your child is required to have a passport. U.S. laws concerning the issuance of passports require both parties’ signatures on the application form submitted for a child under the age of 16. Both parents must apply in person to apply for the child’s passport. If only one parent can appear in person to apply for the child’s passport, the other parent may provide a signed consent form. IF you cannot obtain the consent of the other parent, then you will need to litigate that issue. However, please remember that no passport is required to travel within the United States.
- Travel with certified copies of your child’s birth certificate and your divorce judgment. It takes only a few minutes of your time to make copies of your child’s birth certificate and your Marital Settlement Agreement/Final Judgment of divorce. Stick a copy of each in your travel bag for future use if necessary. The Transportation Security Administration is authorized to demand proof of parentage from any person traveling with a minor child. Although this rarely occurs, it is always best to be prepared.
- Letter of consent for international travel. The United States Department of State suggests that a parent who plans to travel abroad without the child’s other parent obtain a letter of consent. The entry and departure requirement for travelers often vary from one airport to another and from one destination to another. Under some circumstances, an airline employee or immigration official may demand to see a signed consent from the child’s other parent before allowing a child to leave the country. Consequently, make sure that you have the other parent’s consent. If you don’t and can’t obtain it, then make sure that you have your attorney quickly bring this matter before the court’s attention.
Consequently, if you follow the above advice, travel with your children during the summer should be uneventful.