The opportunity to travel overseas can be an extremely valuable experience, particularly for children with relatives or friends that live outside of the United States. Because of the expense and time-consuming arrangements associated with overseas travel, most people plan for long trips, lasting from several weeks to even several months. Summer is, of course, the ideal season for long vacations, but there are numerous requirements that must be met by divorced or single parents prior to leaving the country with their kids.
- Permission from the other parent.
If there is a custody agreement in place, you must obtain written permission from the other parent in order to take your child out of the country. This could be a simple hand-written or typed letter signed by the other parent, but things could get complicated if the other parent refuses to give permission. In that case, you may need to obtain a court order which could take quite a bit of time depending on the court's schedule.
- Passport for your child.
Your child needs a passport for foreign travel, regardless of age. Both parents are required to accompany the child to the passport office, but if that's not possible, one parent will need to bring a notarized Statement of Consent form, which can be found at the Department of State website. This form, known as DS-3053, allows single parents to explain special situations, such as their efforts to locate the other parent, the other parent being deceased, or any other reason that he or she is not available to give consent.
- Identification forms proving you and your child's relationship.
In order to board the plane, you must be able to prove that you are your child's parent. Necessary documents include the ones you brought to the passport office – birth certificate, government issued photo ID, and evidence of US citizenship or permanent residency. Proper documentation is especially important if you and your child have different last names, which is common for mothers.
There may be other requirements depending on the country you are trying to enter. You may also need to include very specific language in your letter of consent depending on your situation with the other parent. Many single parents find it helpful to consult an attorney during the vacation planning process, especially if there are sensitive or volatile circumstances between themselves and the other parent. In addition, it's essential to verify that you will not be violating any of the terms in your custody order, such as how long your child is allowed to stay overseas, or any special permission that may be required on top of the letter of consent. Such requirements may seem excessive, but these protections ensure that one parent cannot just leave the country at will with the child, thus violating the other party's parental rights. For more information on traveling overseas with your child, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.