Divorce or separation can put a last-minute wrench in your family vacation plans. For smooth sailing all the way, get a notarized travel letter of consent in advance. (Border agents and airlines are less likely to balk when it’s notarized.)
Vacations With Kids When You’re Divorced or Separated
Taking the kids on cross-border travel excursions can be great fun. Divorce or separation don’t have to get in your way. When you travel alone with your kids, your former partner or spouse has a right to refuse consent to leave Canada. Even if you’re a single parent, and especially if your partner has parenting time with the kids, you could get grief.
Do I Have to Get a Letter?
You can go around any roadblocks by getting a court order dispensing with travel consent letters. But in most cases, that’s not going to happen. Unless you are at risk of abuse or violence, Ontario family court wants to know you and your ex are trying to get along, for kids’ sake anyway.
Legal Requirements for Travel Consent
Travel letters have to be in writing. While notarizing it is not required, the Canadian government recommends it, for your children’s safety. Unless you are heading to a country that’s not party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, you should be good to go.
Who Travels to a War Zone Anyway?
Living through civil war is probably not in the parenting plan you filed with Ontario family court. Things happen. Checking www.travel.gc.ca for advisories about politically or socially unstable parts of the world can help you make travel plans. It’s up to you if you decide to go, but your ex may put up a fuss if your children’s safety and security are at risk.
Rating the Travel Risk
No area is automatically forbidden territory. Foreign countries on the travel advisory list are rated from exercise normal caution to be highly cautious, avoid non-essential travel (how well do you know where you are going and do you really need to be there?) to it’s a no-go, avoid all travel zone.
How Family Court Decides on Travel Risk
Family courts make travel decisions based on risks vs. benefits, like seeing extended family or experiencing different cultures. Rest assured the court has the best interests of your child at heart. Crime, widespread protests, violent political regimes or even unsafe drinking water can be reasons for courts to cancel a travel itinerary.
Agreeing to Disagree
Sometimes, getting to yes is a simple matter of figuring out what the holdup is. A family lawyer can often help or mediation can be a quicker, more economical route to travel. Weigh your options before you wade in. Ideally, your parenting plan covered off this scenario. Check it before you book any flights. Depending on what you agreed to at the time, you may have to give advance notice, confine your travel to within Canada or provide flight numbers and contact info. Take a copy of your parenting arrangements, separation agreement or divorce order with you when you cross the border.
You Have Recourse
Family court can be your ally in paving the way for travel plans your ex objects to.
- Apply for a court order requiring consent or dispensing with the need to ask for consent. Your ex can’t unreasonably withhold travel consent just because they disapprove.
- If you spend time and money in court because your ex is opposed, you can ask to have your legal and other costs paid.
Is legal action worth the time and effort? It could be. Family lawyers report that even the idea of meeting in family court can be enough to get consent.
Singles and Travel Consent
You think of yourself as solo and independent, proud to be parenting on your own. Your child’s other parent still has a say if you leave Canada with their offspring. Child abductions and trafficking are on the upswing. You need proof for border services agents that your former partner knows and agrees with your plans or the court has ordered them to go along with it.
Risky Business – Getting Your Children Back
Some parents are understandably worried their kids will disappear completely if they let them go. Bitter feelings or overinvolved grandparents can be grounds to just say no. The Hague Convention protects children from wrongful removal and retention. It can help you get your kids back or protect your access rights. Talk to a family lawyer if you’re worried about abduction or would prefer to have a lawyer hold onto the children’s passports for safe keeping.
Notarized Travel Letters of Consent
Axess Law’s Ontario notary publics prepare travel letters of consent authorizing parents to take children out of country. For advice on protecting your children’s rights, call for a video conference appointment. Call 1-877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to make an appointment 7 days a week, day or evening. In person meetings are available at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.
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