Curtis knew someday he wanted to travel internationally with his children to Japan, where he had spent some time stationed in Okinawa. Perhaps they could also spend time in South Korea, even visit Shanghai and go to Disney Park there. Curtis wanted to make sure his children saw a bigger world than just their home in Atlanta.
Curtis had several reasons for wanting to visit Asia with his children. On one level, it was a way to connect, to bond, to allow them to see where their father had performed his service to the country. In his mind, it was a way to let them experience part of their family story, their heritage.
But, it was also educational, a chance to experience new cultures, new languages, new ways of seeing the world and thinking about things. Curtis saw a valuable and important life experience for his children, and he was determined to make it happen. Then came the divorce.
How does Curtis’ story end? What happens after a divorce? In this case, the reasons Curtis wanted to take his children overseas are no less valid after the marriage is over. Here are some of the legal implications for Curtis and his family.
Most custody agreements don’t put any specific restrictions or limits on international travel. However, you’re probably going to need your ex to assist you in making travel arrangements. Don’t assume that if the custody order fails to mention overseas travel, that you can just pack up your kids and ride off on a cruise ship or airplane.
Let’s think about passports. Every one of your children, as well as yourself, will need to secure a United States passport in order to travel to another country. If you have sole legal custody of your children, then you can apply for a passport and sign the application on behalf of your child without the other parent.
However, if you share joint legal custody, and your child is sixteen years of age or younger, both parents have to sign the application for a passport. Otherwise, it will not be approved. If the child is over the age of sixteen, they need one parent signature in order to get a passport. It does not matter which parent if they share joint legal custody.
What happens if, in a joint legal custody situation, one parent decides they do not want to sign? You have to go to court and talk to a judge to get a court order allowing you to proceed with the passport application.
Finally, if your child already has a passport, and you have concerns that your ex may decide to take advantage of that and flee the country with the child, you can go to court and ask that the child’s passport be held by the court until they are out of danger. There have been cases where a child has been taken to another country and held there, leaving the parent back in the US with few options to get them back.
From an educational standpoint, Curtis has a great idea. What a wonderful experience it would be to travel with his children to a place that has such meaning for him.
The key to international travel with children after your divorce is to plan ahead and consult an attorney to make sure things run smoothly. If you’re in this situation and need some advice, contact Family Matters Law Group today and let us help you create memories that will last a lifetime with your children. We help clients in Henry, Clayton, and Fayette counties, as well as across the Atlanta metro area. Don’t take chances -- talk to an attorney today.