Can My Ex Take Our Child Out of the Country?

Many parents assume they can travel anywhere with their child during court-mandated parenting time. However, if a parent wishes to take their child out of the country, or even out of the state, they need permission from the other parent before doing so.

Custody Agreements

If the terms of a custody agreement make it clear that the custodial parent has sole decision-making authority over minor children, they might be permitted to travel outside the country without the non-custodial parent’s consent. However, if both parents have legal authority over decisions regarding their children, the parent seeking to travel internationally must obtain written consent from the other parent before beginning any travel arrangements.

A parent who ignores the terms of their custody arrangement and travels internationally with their child could face severe legal penalties. For instance, a parent could be charged with kidnapping and face all punishments that come from such a conviction.

Child Passports

To minimize international parental kidnapping, federal law requires both parents to provide verbal or written consent for children under the age of 16 to obtain their passport. However, there are a few noted exceptions, such as death of the other parent or one parent having sole custody. For most applications, if both parents do not provide consent or jointly apply for their child’s passport, the application will be denied.

Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act (UCAPA)

Since 2006, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) has been using the UCAPA to help deter parents from making interstate and/or international travel arrangements without the other parent’s consent.

This act allows parents to take preventative action in a court if they believe their former partner is planning on abducting their child. The party seeking prevention must submit a petition to the court detailing:

  • the reason they believe the other parent is planning an abduction;
  • the name, age, and gender of the child;
  • the other parent’s current address; and
  • a statement regarding any other abduction attempts.

If a court determines there is credible risk of abduction, the judge may grant an order to prevent the abduction. The specifics of the order vary by each case, but could include:

  • imposing travel restrictions;
  • prohibiting the other parent from removing the child from the state; and/or
  • requiring the other parent to obtain an identical custody order from the country they wish to travel to.

Protecting Your Parental Rights

At Law Office of Alexandra White, PC, our international divorce lawyers can help ensure your ex doesn’t take your child out of the country without your consent. We are well-versed in international custody laws and can help you protect your custodial rights.

For a consultation, contact our firm online or call us at (303) 647-4245.

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