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Can You Travel Out of the Country With Your Kids if You Have a Joint Custody Agreement?

Can You Travel Out of the Country With Your Kids if You Have a Joint Custody Agreement?

Holidays are a time to visit family, but not all families are located within the United States. Alternatively, your family vacation plans might include an overseas trip with your young child. For these or other reasons, you may be looking to travel out of the country with your young child.

If you are divorced or separated from your child’s other parent, such a trip may require more than just getting a passport for your child. While traveling out of the country with your child is possible if you share custody with the other parent in Michigan, there may be additional legal hurdles you must overcome first.

How Joint Custody in Michigan Affects International Travel

When two parents of a child divorce or separate, a court will enter custody orders that either grant one parent sole custody or both parents joint custody. Joint custody arrangements are the most common and give both parents an equal legal right to spend time with the child and participate in raising the child.

Any time your child is with you, the other parent does not have physical custody of your child. The law presumes the risk that you may not return the child to the other parent, and this risk grows larger with greater geographic distance between you and the other parent.

When you travel internationally, the other parent has few legal options for exercising joint custody if you refuse to return to the United States with the child. As a result, courts will not allow you to travel internationally without the other parent’s consent or a court order.

What You Need to Know to Travel Out of the Country

If the other parent will not consent to you traveling out of the country with your child, you will need to petition the court and obtain specific permission to travel out of the country. To do this, be prepared to present the court with your travel itinerary as well as arguments as to why such travel plans are in your child’s best interests.

Whether you have the other parent’s consent or the court’s permission to travel internationally, ensure that you have copies of this documentation with you when you travel.

You should also check the laws of the country to which you are traveling, as many will not allow children to enter the country with just one parent without additional documentation.

Making a Family Law Attorney a Part of Your Travel Plans

Traveling to a foreign country with your child can be complex if you are divorced or separated from the other parent. You will need to obtain either a court order or the other parent’s consent to avoid being accused of attempting to kidnap your child.

Consulting with a knowledgeable Michigan family law attorney well in advance of your travel date can help you secure the permission you need to travel abroad with your child and prevent unexpected delays and obstacles to your plans.

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