Is My Ex-Spouse Allowed to Take Our Child Out of the Country?

Traveling with your child after a divorce can be more challenging than you assume. You may not be able to pack a bag and leave with your child without your ex-spouse’s consent, especially if you intend to leave the country. Therefore, you should understand how to protect your rights as a parent before making travel plans with your child.

What Does Your Custody Order Say About Traveling with Your Child?

Each child custody order is different. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, your custody order could limit travel with your child. Even a short vacation or visit with family members outside the country may be prohibited. 

Some custody orders contain vacation clauses that permit parents to take their children on vacations outside of New Jersey with specific restrictions. 

The custody order may contain specific travel restrictions related to:

  • Destinations
  • Duration of travel
  • Activities while traveling
  • Notice periods before traveling
  • Written consent of both parents 

It is doubtful that your custody order would permit you to take your child outside of the country without your ex-spouse’s consent. 

One of the best ways to avoid problems is to include specific terms related to out-of-state travel in your divorce decree. For example, suppose you anticipate traveling abroad because you have family living in another country. In that case, you can avoid problems in the future by including terms for international travel in the divorce decree.

Know The Laws About Leaving New Jersey with Your Children

Know The Laws About Leaving New Jersey with Your Children

In most situations, you cannot leave New Jersey with your children without the permission of the child’s other parent or court order. New Jersey retains jurisdiction over children living within the state. State law prohibits a child from being removed from the state without the written consent of both parents or an Order of the Court. 

You may be tempted to leave New Jersey for a scheduled trip if your child’s other parent refuses to consent. However, that could result in kidnapping charges, which would hurt an upcoming custody case or your current custody arrangement. 

International travel is a tricky subject. Parents may fear that the child’s other parent might flee to another country to avoid a custody fight. If that is a concern, a parent can ask the court to grant an order preventing international travel pending a final custody order from the court. 

If your ex-spouse refuses to consent to international travel, you need to petition the court for approval to travel outside of New Jersey with your children. 

Enroll Your Child with the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program 

Both parents must sign a child’s passport application if the child is under the age of 16. Without the consent of both parents, the U. S. Department of State will not grant a passport to a child under 16 years old. The only exception is if the parent has a court order granting the parent sole custody of the child.

If you are concerned that your spouse may try to obtain a passport for your child without your permission, you can enroll your child in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP). You would then be alerted of a pending passport application for your child. 

How Can You Make Traveling with Your Children Outside of New Jersey Less Stressful?

How Can You Make Traveling with Your Children Outside of New Jersey Less Stressful?

Begin discussing your vacation plans early. Open communication between parents is the best way to resolve issues related to traveling out of state with children. 

If you want to plan a trip to Disney World next summer, raise the issue with your ex-spouse as soon as possible. By discussing the matter now, you can identify any potential problems that need to be addressed. 

You may agree to provide a detailed vacation plan and itinerary to your ex-spouse with contact information for where you will be staying during the entire trip. You may also offer to have the children call your ex-spouse each day or every other day or video chat at least twice during the trip. A willingness to allow continued access to the children can be a powerful motivator for an ex-spouse to consent to an out-of-state trip.

You may need to seek judicial relief if your spouse continues to refuse to consent to a child’s travel plans when you made every reasonable effort to plan an out-of-state or international trip with your children. 

A judge may consider several factors before granting international travel requests, including:

  • The purpose of international travel
  • The reasonableness of your request 
  • The specific travel plans
  • Proposes for make-up time for the non-traveling parent to spend with the child
  • Plans for continued communication between the children and the non-traveling parent
  • Whether the country you intend to visit is safe and a signatory of The Hague Convention 
  • Past parental disputes and behavior 
  • Other special or unique circumstances related to your request

International travel with your children is possible. However, having an experienced family lawyer review the specific details of your case well in advance of your trip can help avoid any potential problems that could disrupt your travel plans.

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule an appointment. to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400,
Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States