Child Custody Attorney’s
Tips for International Traveling with Children
The holidays are upon us – which means fun and exciting international travel plans for some families. However, parents with minor children who are subject to a divorce, child custody or parenting time agreement need to be mindful of some potential restrictions on their ability to travel overseas.
As an experienced Clarkston area child custody attorney, I have helped hundreds of families safely and legally navigate the steps involved in enjoying international travel with their children. In this article I discuss a few important international travel factors to keep in mind.
Child Support Arrearages & Traveling with Children
Parents should be aware that if you are behind (“in arrears”) on child support in an amount of $2,500 or more, your passport application may be denied – or your current passport can be revoked. And, even if you “catch up” on child support at the last minute, the process of clearing one’s name with the State Department typically takes several weeks.
Federal agencies, including the State Department, cannot override this requirement. So any inquiries regarding child support arrearages must be directed to the Friend of the Court or Michigan Office of Child Support. Your child custody attorney can help you with this.
If you did not, or do not, have a child custody attorney and you live in Clarkston, Waterford or Oakland County Michigan you are also welcome to call my law office for help with any child support or child custody matter.
Michigan Child Custody Law & the Hague Convention
Parents traveling with minor children should also know that visiting certain prohibited countries can be a violation of their child custody and parenting time arrangements.
“The Hague Convention” (full title: Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction) is an international treaty adopted by many countries around the world to help combat parental kidnapping. This international “law” provides for the prompt return of children who are unlawfully taken to any of the foreign countries that participates in the treaty.
In 2013 Michigan enacted a law that requires that all custody and parenting time orders must include a provision that legally prevents either parent from taking the children to a country that is not part of the Hague Convention. Only if both parents provide the Court with written consent can a parent take the child to a country that is not a party to the Hague Convention.
A parents’ written consent to travel to a particular country can be included in the original Court Order, or the consent can be given later on in a subsequently signed document. But under no circumstances does the Judge have the power to approve a travel request to a non-Hague country, if the other parent does not consent.
While The Hague Convention has been entered into by 96 countries, only 76 are Hague “treaty partners” with the US. And many common vacation and cruise ship destinations are non-Hague countries and/or non-Hague “treaty partners” with the United States. This means you could be violating your child custody and parenting time if you take your children on a vacation to Aruba – or even stop in St. Martin or St. Bart’s on a cruise.
If you (or the children’s other parent) are thinking of taking your children out of the country during the holidays – or at any time – you should consult with your child custody attorney before the travel date. If you did not, or do not, have a child custody attorney and you live in Clarkston, Waterford or Oakland County Michigan you are also welcome to call my law office.
Child Custody Law and Travel Warnings
It’s no secret that the world is a state of upheaval, with the threat of terrorist attacks on everybody’s mind – both in the Unites States and abroad. In that regard, the US State Department has issued a “Worldwide Caution” advising heightened vigilance when traveling.
Before traveling internationally with children, parents should first check the US State Department’s travel warnings. As of today (December 2017), much of Mexico remains under a warning due to drug cartel violence – which includes many tourist locations such as Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cozumel, and more.
Once you have determined your destination you should also enroll in “STEP,” which is in the State Department’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program”. This free US government service will provide you with up to date safety and security information for that country, and will enable the US Embassy in that country to contact you in the event of an emergency, including terrorist attacks, natural disasters, political unrest, or a family emergency.
Clarkston Area Child Custody Attorney’s
International Travel Checklist
With some careful advanced planning, international travel can be a wonderful and rewarding experience for any family.
When traveling internationally with children, make sure:
- all child support arrearages are paid
- passports are in order, long in advance
- your divorce, child custody or parenting time Order does not prohibit leaving the country
- you are traveling only to Hague partner countries (or have written consent from the other parent)
- you have checked State Department travel alerts
- you enroll in the State Department “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program”
- you have packed children’s birth certificates and your divorce, child custody or parenting time Order
Your child custody attorney can help better understand these requirements, so that you avoid travel disruptions. If you do not have a child custody attorney – and you live in Clarkston, Waterford or Oakland County Michigan – you are also welcome to call my law office for help with any child support, child custody or parenting time matter.