Getting a divorce is typically a difficult situation for any family, but it becomes even more complicated when children are involved. If you and your spouse already have a child custody arrangement, there are some legal steps both parents are required to take before they can leave the country. If fact, even if one parent just wants to make a short visit to see some relatives in another country, you might need special permission from the Los Angeles County Family Court judge.
Every custody arrangement is different when it comes to each parent's legal authority. International travel after a divorce may require both sides to take certain steps before leaving the country. If you are getting a divorce, you might be able to get travel restrictions added to your custody order or temporary orders.
However, if your child has a passport, it could prove difficult for the court to prevent the child from traveling to another country with their parent. In certain situations, some parents have successfully surrendered their child's passport to the family law court. In this type of situation, one parent who is seeking travel outside the country with their children would have to request the return of the passport from the court.
This means a hearing would be required for the court to make a decision. If both parents can't agree on the surrender of the child's passport, a parent who wants to have their child's passport surrendered has to be able to show evidence that the other parent intends to abscond with the child. See additional information below on your child's passport. As stated above, something as simple as a short family vacation involves specific requirements in many cases.
If the parents don't live in the same country, and the child routinely resides with both parents, It's often difficult to determine which country should have jurisdiction. International child custody cases often become a complicated disputes.
The experienced Los Angeles divorce attorneys Furman & Zavatsky can tell you what you need to know in order to protect your rights as a parent if your ex-spouse is attempting to take your child out of the country without your permission. Now that we have covered a general overview of one spouse taking the children outside the United States, let's take a closer look at the legal requirements below.
Terms of Your Custody Agreement
If you and your ex-spouse share custody (“joint custody”) of your child, each parent's custodial rights are most likely a result of the court-issued custody order from your Los Angeles divorce proceedings. With shared custody, you have the right to oppose large decisions that include traveling to a foreign country.
Your custody agreement may also expressly limit international travel with the child unless both parents consent. A court order can be filed if your ex-spouse is trying to take your child out of the country without your consent and against the terms of your custody agreement.
If your ex-spouse has full custody (“sole custody”) of your child, making large decisions without your permission may be within their authority. However, you may still have a right to oppose the travel to a foreign country if the trip causes you to miss court-ordered visitation with your child.
International travel may also be prevented under California custody law if a court deems it necessary to protect the child from the risk of abduction. This could apply to your case if you have visitation rights and do not want your ex-spouse taking your child out of the country.
On the other hand, if your ex-spouse is unable to locate you, the court can grant permission to let your ex-spouse leave with your child without your permission. This requires specific forms when applying for a passport for the child and may require your ex-spouse to present applicable documents such as a custody order, incarceration order, restraining order, etc. Contact a Los Angeles divorce attorney at our law firm for additional information.
Move-Away Situations in California
In general, California “move-away” situations always require a court's consideration of the best interest of your child. If you and your ex-spouse share custody, the courts may allow your child to move against your wishes if your ex-spouse can prove it is in your child's best interest.
If your ex-spouse has full custody, you can only prevent the move if you can prove that it will harm your child. The status of your custody order, whether temporary or permanent, will also affect what is required.
It is important to note that while the shared or full custody agreed upon in your parenting agreement is important, a dispute may cause the court to look at the actual schedule of time spent with each parent at the time of the attempted move. Be sure to speak with our Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys about your custody arrangement and parenting schedule to understand how this law applies to your specific circumstances.
Your Child's Passport
United States Federal Law requires that both parents sign the passport application for a child under the age of 16. If you and your ex-spouse have shared custody, you must appear in person to sign the passport application or provide notarized consent in order for your child to leave the country. The United States Department of State will not grant your child's passport application without your signature or notarized consent in order to prevent international parental child abduction.
If your ex-spouse has full custody, a passport for your child may be issued if they provide proof of sole legal authority (court order, birth certificate listing parent as the only parent). As an added protection, you can receive notification of someone requesting a passport in your minor child's name by enrolling in the Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program.
Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney
If you believe your ex-spouse is planning to take your child to a foreign country against your wishes, you may need a court order to stop them. It is important to know your rights in either a joint or sole custody situation. Contact our family law attorneys today to become more educated and potentially begin on the legal matters regarding travel with your child and to prevent a possible abduction. The skilled Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky can assist you with the California custody process. Contact us today for a free consultation at 818-528-3471.
Related Information: Child Move Away Cases in California