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Can I Travel Abroad with Shared Custody?

Divorced parents with joint custody arrangements often run into disagreements or scheduling conflicts. While holiday dinners might not be that complicated, vacations can be complex, especially when international travel is involved. Consulting an experienced family law lawyer about your custody agreement may help avoid confusion or upset in the future.

Do Custody Orders Include Information About International Travel?

Many ex-spouses do not have formal custody orders, but others have custody orders without specifics about travel. Some of those have language that covers the topic, but international travel is not always mentioned. When travel rules are in custody orders, the other parent’s consent is usually required.

When a custody order is in place, both parents must abide by its stipulations. However, lifestyles change and there may be a need or desire to travel abroad.

Traveling Without Your Ex-Spouse’s Consent

Divorced parents who are thinking about traveling abroad with their children need to be thoughtful about their decisions. Instead of quickly booking the flights and hotels, it is wiser to read the custody agreement first. Even if it does not require the ex-spouse’s consent, it is best to ask for it.

Should the ex-spouse object to the trip, it may be possible to have an honest discussion and arrive at an acceptable agreement. Once they see a detailed itinerary and recognize that the trip is important, their perception might change. This can be part of a travel consent letter, which can also include the names and contact information of everyone on the trip. It is important to have a document like this, otherwise the ex-spouse might later claim that they never agreed to the trip.

When there is joint custody, a divorced parent who takes their child out of the country without consent could face kidnapping or abduction charges. This can turn into a frightening situation, particularly in countries that do not recognize U.S. custody agreements.

Are There Other Options for Getting Consent?

A “Ne Exeat” surety bond can be part of a custody agreement. These bonds are meant to ensure that the divorced parent traveling abroad will follow the terms of the parenting plan. Since it is a bond, it involves money. The traveling parent must post the Ne Exeat bond with the court and provide all of the travel information. As for the amount, this depends on the estimated legal fees that the ex-spouse would accumulate if international litigation occurred.

If the child already has a passport, a parent might worry that the other will flee the country with the child. When the ex-spouses cannot agree on an international travel dilemma, either may make a motion with the court. The court might remove the passport temporarily, which would make the trip impossible.

Approaching an ex-spouse about an international trip with shared children can be intimidating, especially after complicated divorces. The best approach is to read over the custody agreement and create a detailed itinerary before putting down any deposits. If the other parent will not allow the trip, a family lawyer may be able to help.

A Marlton Family Law Lawyer from Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Can Advise You on Traveling Abroad with Your Children

If you need to modify your child custody agreement, contact a compassionate, experienced Marlton family law lawyer from Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Complete our online form or call us at 856-890-9400 to schedule a confidential consultation. Our offices are located in Marlton, New Jersey, and serve families in Marlton, Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and throughout South Jersey.

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