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Can You Legally Take a Child of Divorced Parents Out of the Country?


Divorce can often create complex issues, especially when it comes to co-parenting and travel arrangements. Recently a concerned parent raised questions about her ex-husband’s plan to take their six-year-old child to Tijuana, Mexico, for a month with his girlfriend and their daycare.

Let’s examine some of the legal aspects and parental concerns associated with taking a child of divorced parents out of the country, whether for a long period, a vacation, or even a cruise.

Legal Considerations

When it comes to international travel with children, the first point of reference is typically the parenting plan established during the divorce proceedings. The parenting plan usually outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parents regarding the child’s travel. However, if the plan does not explicitly address out-of-country travel, each parent is generally free to make such arrangements without legal impediments.

Notice and Passport Requirements

It is common for parenting plans to include provisions for notice regarding international travel. If you have been given notice by your ex-husband about his plans to take your child to Tijuana, it indicates that he has fulfilled this requirement. Additionally, parenting plans often include guidelines regarding passport applications for children. If your ex-husband has followed the necessary steps and has already obtained a passport for your child, his intentions to travel are likely in compliance with the legal requirements.

Parental Concerns

While the legality of out-of-country travel may be established, it is natural for parents to have concerns about their child’s well-being in an unfamiliar environment. In the case presented, the mother expresses her worries about her child’s safety, language barrier, and the involvement of an unknown person.

Child’s Safety

It is crucial for both parents to prioritize the safety and welfare of their child. If you genuinely believe that the planned trip poses a significant risk to your child’s well-being, you have the right to address your concerns legally. In such cases, returning to court and filing a motion to modify the parenting plan might be necessary. The court will carefully consider the child’s best interests and make a decision based on the presented evidence and arguments.

Language Barrier

The mother’s concern regarding her child’s inability to communicate in Spanish is valid. Being in a foreign country without proficiency in the local language can be challenging, especially for a young child. It is essential for parents to discuss these language concerns and explore potential solutions. Adequate communication channels, such as video calls or a translator, can help bridge the language gap and provide reassurance for both parents.

Involvement of an Unknown Person

The mother’s apprehension about her ex-husband’s girlfriend, whom she does not know, is another genuine concern. Particularly when a parenting plan doesn’t address such issues, it is crucial for divorced parents to establish open lines of communication and trust when it comes to introducing new individuals into the child’s life. Co-parenting requires transparency and cooperation, and addressing concerns about the child’s well-being and the people involved is paramount.

Traveling with a child of divorced parents out of the country can present legal considerations and parental concerns. While the legality of such travel depends on the existing parenting plan, addressing concerns about safety, language barriers, and the involvement of unknown individuals requires open communication and potentially revisiting the court for modifications. Ultimately, the best interests of the child should guide decisions, ensuring their well-being and happiness throughout any travel arrangements made by divorced parents.

Contact Us For Help

If you’re not sure your parenting plan addresses these types of issues, it may be time to modify your parenting plan with an attorney who can help. Click here to schedule a consultation.

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