Travelling with Children After Divorce Part 2: Documentation

In part one of travelling with children we discussed the different ways your parenting arrangement may affect your decision to travel with your child(ren). In part two we will be outlining all of the required documentation.

Consent form

In the majority of co-parent relationships you need to have your Ex’s permission to travel abroad and/or for extended periods of time with your child(ren). The simplest way to prove that you have their permission is with a consent form. This is a written document signed by your Ex that outlines the dates and destination of the trip and states that they consent to these activities. A consent form is not a mandatory legal requirement but, failure to produce one when it's requested may result in delays at the border or even refusal of entry. To ensure that your vacation goes smoothly it is also recommended that you get the consent form certified by someone like an commissioner of oaths or a notary public. This eliminates the chance of a border officer questioning the authenticity of the document. Even if you are just taking a day trip across the border consent will be necessary as it is needed for all foreign travel.

When travelling within the country, there is no one checking whether or not your co-parent is okay with the travel. However, if you break a custody agreement by keeping your child(ren) when your Ex is supposed to have them there could be legal repercussions.

Consent form formatting

The consent letter itself should be very specific; you shouldn’t use one general consent form for multiple trips. Rather, each one should state the exact dates of the trip as well as your destination and the address(es) of where you will be staying. The government of Canada provides a template here. If you and your Ex have several children together you can choose to use one consent form for all of the children, or one for each. If you use one consent form it is important that all of the children listed have the same legal guardians. As well, if you are listing multiple children on one consent form, it is important that those children leave and return to the country together.

Passport

Along with a consent form, your child will need a passport for foreign travel. If they need to apply for or renew their passport this too will require your Ex’s consent. To apply for a passport on behalf of a child the signatures of all legal guardians are required. This process can take up to a month, so it is best to contact your Ex about your intended travel plans well in advance.

Being divorced with children adds an extra level of preparation, and co-operation to planning a trip. Throughout the planning process though it is important not to lose sight of the end goal. Going on vacation is exciting and meant to be fun and relaxing. Don’t let the extra preparation and stress cloud your feelings about your trip and all the fun you and your kids will have together.