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Can you travel internationally with your kids if you share custody with your ex?

It won’t be long before your children go on summer break. You’ve already likely begun narrowing in on your vacation plans, which may include international travel.

You might have looked in to the passport requirements if your child doesn’t yet have one. You’ve likely discovered that both parents must physically appear and show proof of parentage to secure a passport for their minor child. You’ve also likely found that parents with sole custody could apply for their child’s passport without the other parent’s authorization.

It’s important to know that you may expose yourself to legal liability if you and your ex share joint custody, and you travel abroad with your child without their other parent’s permission.

What happens if you and your child travel abroad without your ex’s consent?

Parents who share joint custody must ask each other for permission to travel with their minor child when they share joint custody. A mom or a dad could face kidnapping or child abduction charges if they failed to get their co-parent’s consent before making such a trip.

One reason such laws exist is because many foreign countries don’t recognize another jurisdiction’s custody agreements. This means that a parent from outside their country would have no standing to bring suit in an international court if an abduction occurred.

How parents can avoid legal problems when traveling abroad with their child

Parents can protect themselves from having child custody issues by taking out a “Ne Exeat” surety bond. The bond means that the parent leaving the country agrees to abide by their child custody agreement.

Parents who post these bonds with the court must provide their expected destination and length of stay. The bond’s amount reflects the potential legal fees the domestic spouse would incur if international litigation became necessary. Parents must be clear with the court about their plans to allow their child to remain in communication with their co-parent while abroad for a judge to sign off on their plans.

Co-parenting can be challenging, especially when it comes to leaving the general geographic area where you reside. An attorney can assist you if you need to negotiate a travel agreement with your ex.