Can Divorced Mothers Take Their Children Out of the Country?

By Ciele Edwards

If you have ties to another country, you may wish to take your child with you to visit. If you are divorced, the custody arrangement to which you and your former spouse adhere determines what steps you must take before leaving the country with your child. The United States Department of Justice notes that because foreign laws often differ considerably from U.S. law, international parental abductions are harder to resolve. Placing restrictions on international travel with children – even for the custodial parent – helps prevent these abductions from occurring.

If you have ties to another country, you may wish to take your child with you to visit. If you are divorced, the custody arrangement to which you and your former spouse adhere determines what steps you must take before leaving the country with your child. The United States Department of Justice notes that because foreign laws often differ considerably from U.S. law, international parental abductions are harder to resolve. Placing restrictions on international travel with children – even for the custodial parent – helps prevent these abductions from occurring.

Travel Consent

Before making arrangements to leave the country, check your custody decree. According to the U.S. Department of State, some custody decrees contain restrictions or criteria you must meet before traveling internationally with your child. If you disregard the requirements noted in the custody decree, you could be arrested and charged with kidnapping. While all custody agreements differ, a divorced mother must generally obtain written permission from the child's father before taking the child out of the country.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Sole Custody

In some cases, a divorced mother has sole custody of her children. A mother with sole custody has the right to make all major decisions about the child's welfare without consulting with her ex-husband. This includes deciding whether or not to travel internationally with her child. A divorced mother must be able to prove sole custody at the border by providing court documents noting this fact or, if her ex-husband is deceased, a copy of his death certificate.

Prevention

U.S. Law requires the signatures of both parents on a child's passport application. If a child's father objects to the child's mother traveling internationally with the child, he can prevent the child from leaving the country by refusing to sign for the child's passport. If the child's health is at stake, the Secretary of State has the authority to grant a passport to a child even if the father objects. A divorced mother with sole custody does not need permission from her ex-husband to obtain a passport for her child.

Relocation

If a divorced mother intends to permanently relocate to another country with her child and she lacks sole custody, she must typically obtain the court's permission before doing so. The court will evaluate the circumstances surrounding the move and a judge will decide if the move is in the child's best interests. The American Bar Association notes that any country that signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction treaty will immediately return an abducted child to the United States if his parent removed him from the United States without the court's permission. A total of 45 countries adhere to the Hague Convention treaty.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Does a Minor With Divorced Parents Need Permission From Both Parents to Exit the Country?

References

Resources

Related articles

The Impounding of Children's Passports During Divorce in Pennsylvania

During a divorce proceeding in Pennsylvania, one parent can take steps to deter the other parent from removing a child from the country. If the child does not yet have a passport, the parent can register to block issuance of a new passport. If the child already has a passport, the parent can ask the court to hold the passport during the divorce process.

State of Florida Custody Laws for Vacations

For divorcing parents, summer vacations can present a particular challenge since child custody is often a hot topic in the divorce. In Florida, parents can generally take their children on vacation during the time they already have physical custody or visitation rights. But you can design your visitation, or time-sharing, schedule to directly address vacations through temporary orders before your divorce or through permanent orders incorporated into your final divorce decree and effective after your divorce.

Rights for a Divorced Father When the Mother Wants to Move Away

Parents aren't always equal under the law. In many divorce cases, courts name one parent as the primary custodian of the children and grant the other parent visitation rights. When the custodial parent wants to relocate with the children, this necessarily affects the other parent’s visitation schedule if the move involves some geographical distance. When a non-custodial father is faced with such a situation, he has the right to object and get the court involved. However, judges’ positions regarding relocation issues vary widely from state to state.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Do You Have to Have the Signature of a Divorced Spouse to Take Your Minor Child Out of the Country?

A divorced parent may want to take a child on trips and vacations outside the United States without the other parent's ...

Can a Spouse With Full Custody Leave the Country?

A parent with full custody has the authority to make many decisions on behalf of a child. However, a custodial parent's ...

Custody Rulings When a Parent Moves Abroad

Family court matters are litigated on the state level in the United States, so there are 50 different sets of laws to ...

Can You Relocate With a Child Before a Divorce in Georgia?

When you decide to end your marriage, moving to another city -- or even another state -- may seem like your best ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED