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Custody Disputes of Child Traveling Internationally with Petitioning Parent

 Posted on November 04, 2022 in Child Custody

naperville child custody lawyerInternational travel is an exciting opportunity for anyone, especially a minor. The mind-expanding educational benefits offered by traveling abroad can be enriching and life-changing. A divorced parent may want to take their child on an international vacation to expose them to another culture, build memories, or even visit relatives. For a myriad of reasons, however, a parent may legally object to their ex-spouse from taking their child on an international trip. A child custody attorney proficient in parental responsibilities and parenting time can evaluate the terms of the divorce decree and strategize in resolving travel disputes. 

Five Common Reasons a Parent May Contest Child’s Travel Plans

The disputing parent may deny consent to an overseas trip out of genuine worry for the child’s safety and security. Sometimes, however, the disputing parent objects to their ex-spouse indulging their child on an international trip out of spite and envy. Depending on the conditions of the parenting plan, a contesting spouse may have no recourse but to grant permission. The following are common reasons a parent would object to an overseas vacation.  

  1. Danger – The contesting parent may believe an overseas trip to be too risky, using unpredictable political climates, global unrest, or the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason.  

  2. Parental Abduction – According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an annual average of 200,000 children are abducted by family members. With the possibility of never seeing their child again, a disputing parent may have a legitimate claim. Also, the disputing parent would then be at the mercy of a foreign legal system and outstanding legal fees in an attempt to reunite with their child.

  3. Human trafficking – The disputing parent may fear the child could be kidnapped and sex trafficked, especially if the visiting country is a known hub for human trafficking or if the other parent has negligent parenting skills. 

  4. Expense – The disputing parent may object to their child’s overseas trip deeming it too extravagant and indulgent for a child, especially if they believe their alimony payments may contribute to the vacation. 

  5. Retribution – If the custody battle was acrimonious, for vengeance against the other parent, a disputing parent might weaponize the parenting plan by contesting any outing in which legal permission is needed.

Peaceful Solutions and Necessary Travel Documents

A child custody attorney can help enforce or modify the parenting plan if negotiations fail. Some tips, however, can assuage parental discord. 

  • Parenting time – Schedule the international vacation during your parenting time and ensure that the trip does not interfere with shared holidays, birthdays, school, and activities. 

  • Itinerary – Provide the other parent with a comprehensive itinerary of the country you are traveling to, including flight details, the contact information of lodgings, day-to-day activities, and the phone number to the country's nearest U.S. Embassy. 

  • Maintain contact – Prearrange a date and time for your child to call the other spouse throughout the trip, especially on arrival and departure.

  • Compromise – Consider relinquishing some of your parenting time, like an extra week of the child's summer vacation, in exchange for your overseas trip. 

Finding common ground will invariably compel the disputing parent to sign the required travel documents, including but not limited to the following.

  • Child travel consent form – Although only one custodial parent needs to sign this form, which legally permits minors to travel to a foreign country, it is in everyone's best interest that both parents sign the document. Certain foreign customs may have stricter laws for entry, especially if the traveling parent does not share the same surname as the child.  

  • Passport – Both parents must sign a passport application for children under 16. Minors ages 16 and 17 may apply without parental consent as long as one parent does not notify the U.S. Department of State that they prohibit their child's issuance of a passport.

Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Attorney

At Pesce Law Group P.C., our compassionate family law attorneys are sensitive to the needs of our clients and their children. We understand the anxiety and turmoil associated with child custody disputes, especially when the disputes involve traveling abroad. Pesce Law Group P.C. is dedicated to achieving agreeable solutions. If you need to petition for permission to travel internationally with your child, or if you are contesting your ex-spouse from traveling with your child, contact an Oak Brook family law attorney at 630-230-8985 for a free consultation.


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