If you are a divorced parent in California, you may have concerns about your ex-spouse taking your children to another country without your permission. International travel can be a great opportunity for children to experience different cultures and learn new things, but it can also pose some risks and challenges, especially if you and your ex do not agree on the travel plans.
Can my ex take my kids on an international trip?
California law does not prohibit parents from taking their children out of the country for vacation or other purposes, as long as they have the consent of the other parent or a court order. However, if there is a custody order or agreement in place, the parent who wants to travel with the child must follow the terms of that order or agreement.
For example, if the custody order or agreement requires the traveling parent to notify the other parent of the travel itinerary, provide contact information, obtain written consent or return the child by a certain date, the traveling parent must comply with those requirements.
Failing to do so could result in legal consequences, such as contempt of court, modification of custody or visitation or even criminal charges.
If there is no custody order or agreement in place, either parent can take the child out of the country without first getting an OK from the other parent, as long as they do not interfere with the other parent’s custodial rights.
However, this is not advisable as it could create conflict and confusion between the parents and the child. Moreover, if the other parent objects to international travel and files a motion before the traveling parent leaves the country, the traveling parent may be ordered to return the child immediately or face legal action.
How can I prevent this?
If you are worried that your ex-spouse may take your children to another country without your permission or knowledge, there are some steps you can take to prevent that from happening.
First, obtaining a custody order or agreement that specifies the terms and conditions for international travel with your children, such as requiring written consent, advance notice, contact information, travel documents and return date.
Enroll your children in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program, which is a service offered by the United States Department of State that allows you to receive notification when someone applies for a U.S. passport for your children or when a U.S. passport is issued for them. This can help you prevent your ex-spouse from obtaining a passport for your children without your consent or knowledge.