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Summer is the most popular season for travel. The biggest concern of some families: Trying not to over-pack.

However, for families with contentious child custody agreements, Brooklyn family law attorneys recognize that the subject of international travel can quickly become a major dispute.

If the party attempting to travel has family in another country, they may feel it especially important to bring the child to experience the culture and spend time with extended family. On the other hand, the party disputing the travel may have concerns about disruption of the parenting time agreement, and maybe even fears parental abduction.

Both viewpoints are legitimate and deserve fair consideration by the court when the two sides can’t come to a mutual agreement prior to the trip.

Successful initiation of an international trip under these circumstances will involve planning the trip far in advance. That way, if issues do arise, they can be dealt with well before there is a time crunch to have these matters resolved.

Similarly, the parent wishing to challenge the travel should contact a family law attorney as soon as possible to explore potential options.

Generally speaking, children traveling within U.S. borders with just one parent or without either don’t have many requirements and aren’t greatly restricted. In other words, grandma doesn’t necessarily need a parental consent form to take the children to the summer vacation home, although it couldn’t hurt to have one just in case.

Special travel requirements for children are primarily reserved for those who are traveling overseas or crossing international borders. These tighter controls are intended to protect children from international custody disputes and kidnapping situations.

The requirements vary by country of destination. Your attorney can help you consult with the consular office from that nation to find out exactly what documents will be necessary for the child to travel there.

This does not excuse a parent from having to obey the orders of the family court stateside, if they wish to remain in good standing with the local courts.

In general, most minors are going to need a passport for international travel. The only exceptions would be Canada and Mexico when traveling by land or sea. In applying for a passport, at least one of the child’s parents or legal guardians needs to be with the child at the passport office to sign a Form DS-11 before the passport agent. If both parents share custody and the other is not able to be present at the passport office, the other parent has to submit a Form DS-3053, which is a notarized Statement of Consent.

With regard to parent consent for specific trips, these forms aren’t required for all international destinations. Usually, however, the U.S. Department of State recommends the child traveling with one parent have one from the other parent. There is no official form, so parents can draw up their own (samples are online, and your attorney can help). Some countries mandate that the letter be notarized.

It’s important to note that in all matters, the court is going to take into account the child’s best interest. Therefore, a court will not seek to hinder travel of a child where such an experience may be beneficial. However, neither will the court allow it if there is evidence to suggest the other parent may abscond or the experience could be harmful.

Call us today to learn more about how we can help.

Contact our Brooklyn Family Law offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

Parental Permission to Travel With Minors, June 2014, By Jenny Harrington, Demand Media/USA Today

More Blog Entries:

Requests for New York Child Custody Modifications Must be Convincing, June 15, 2014, Brooklyn Family Law Attorney Blog