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Traveling internationally with your kids when you share custody with your ex

Children under sixteen must have a passport to visit another country. A minor’s parents must generally physically appear and show proof of parentage to request the passport. 

It gets complicated when parents are divorced. You risk having a judge deprive you of child custody and you expose yourself to criminal legal liability if you share custody and travel abroad without your co-parent’s consent. 

What could happen if you travel abroad without your co-parent’s consent?

If a parent takes their child abroad without permission and there’s a joint custody agreement in place, that parent could face child abduction or kidnapping charges. Some foreign countries don’t recognize the U.S. custody agreements, though. A parent wouldn’t have any standing to bring suit in an international court in such an instance.

How can you avoid potential child custody issues over international travel?

Perhaps the best way to protect yourself from possible child custody issues is to include a “Ne Exeat” surety bond in your custody agreement. The bond basically means that the parent leaving the country agrees to live up to the terms of your parenting plan and secures that promise with a significant amount of money.

Such an agreement generally requires you to post the bond with the court. You must specify the location you plan to visit and the length of your stay when doing so. The amount of the bond that you must put up is contingent upon how much in legal fees your domestic spouse would incur if international litigation ensues.

If international travel plans are in the works for you and your child this summer, then it may be wise to think about these problems now. Consider speaking with a child custody attorney to avoid any potential legal snafus.