Separated or divorced parents often wonder whether or not they are permitted to take their child(ren) out of the country without their spouse or former spouse’s permission. With summer travel just around the corner, its important to know your rights as a parent, and avoid potential problems when traveling internationally.
The United States does not have exit controls or require two-parent consent for a minor to leave the country. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recommends that the traveling parent obtain letter containing the non-traveling parent’s consent. This letter should be signed and notarized by the non-traveling parent. The letter should explain who the child is, where the child is going, when the child is exiting and entering the country, the purpose of the travel, and the contact information of the non-traveling parent. The CBP recommends the following language: “I acknowledge that my former wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter. He/She has my/our permission to do so.”
If there is no second parent with legal custody of the child (for instance, one parent has sole custody), certified copies of the divorce decree and birth certificate of the child are helpful as well.
While CBP may not ask to see this documentation when the child enters the U.S., the U.S. is very sensitive to the possibility of child abduction and trafficking, and the child and accompanying adult could be detained if questions arise about the situation. While the U.S. does not require this documentation, some other countries do, and travel could be impeded without a notarized permission letter or other documentation.
For more information about what to do when traveling aboard with your child(ren), contact WilliamsMcCarthy LLP at 815-987-8900 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.