If you or your future ex-spouse has family members who live abroad or they regularly spend time in other countries on business, you may want to address rules for taking your children outside the U.S. in your custody agreement. Traveling abroad can be an enlightening and enjoyable experience for kids, and it could be a shame if they were denied that because of their parents’ divorce.
However, if you’re concerned that your co-parent might take them outside the country without obtaining your permission or, in a worst-case scenario, take them abroad and not return them, it’s wise to address travel outside the country with your children in your custody agreement and to find out what additional measures you can take to protect your parental rights.
What you need to know about passports
If your kids don’t yet have passports and are under 16, then you should know that both parents must provide approval for a passport (assuming that you share custody). Once they turn 16, they only need one parent to consent.
If your kids already have passports, the U.S. Department of State can’t prevent them from traveling outside the U.S. and can’t revoke the passports as long as they were appropriately obtained. However, by entering them in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP), you can make sure you’re notified if a new or renewal passport application for your child is received (as long as they’re under 18). You then have 30 days to consent or object.
There are other legal steps you can do to prevent a parent who has custody from taking a child abroad without your consent. However, it’s typically best when parents can work out an agreement that they will both abide by and that will allow their kids to have the experience of spending time outside the U.S. With legal guidance, you can seek terms that are in your children’s best interest and also give you peace of mind.