With March Break behind us, the end of the school year is in sight. For many families, this means planning for summer vacations. Summer planning is a lot of work for any family, but there are unique challenges for divorced or separated parents who are looking to travel with their children over the summer months. Of course, the first step in any family trip is planning, and with that in mind, we present you with these helpful tips for divorced parents to consider when planning a vacation.

Getting organized

If you are planning to take a child outside of Canada without the other parent coming along, it is wise to obtain a travel consent form signed by the parent who is not travelling. By signing a travel consent form, the non-traveling parent authorizes the traveling parent to leave the country with a child. While there is no legal requirement to obtain a travel consent form when leaving Canada, the government recommends obtaining one regardless. This is because while Canada has no requirement for a form, it may not be the case for other countries, which could require one in order for you to enter or leave.

In addition to a travel consent form, you should remember to pack other important documents such as a photocopy of the child’s birth certificate as well as a photocopy of the non-traveling parent’s passport or other government identification.

Communication

Children benefit from reliable schedules, and it takes a lot of work for parents (who are together or not) to craft a schedule involving school, activities, family time, and more. If you are in a shared custody arrangement with the non-traveling parent, we recommend reaching out to them as early as possible to discuss your travel plans. They may be considering travel as well, and by sharing what each other would like to do with or without the children, you allow each other to work with all the information available at the time. The commitments and plans of the non-traveling parent may affect what you ultimately decide upon.

In addition to sharing plans ahead of time, you should also share travel information as your plans develop. This includes items such as hotel reservations, flight details, contact information, etc.

While away

Once the planning is done and you’ve arrived at your destination, consider that the non-traveling parent may be feeling lonely, and even though they are having fun, your child might miss their other parent as well. We recommend arranging a communication plan before you go so that the other parent and the child can plan on talking over the phone, through Skype, Facetime, or other means. You can even encourage them to text if that’s something that is available.

How to handle a refusal to consent

All of our recommendations to this point assume that the non-traveling parent is ok with you going away with your child. Of course, this may not always be the case. If the non-traveling parent refuses to sign a consent form you can go to the courts to get permission. But you want to make sure you leave the court with enough time to act, so planning ahead is still critically important.

If you have questions about child custody, contact Jason P. Howie. We can help answer difficult questions such as: what is the child’s habitual residence? Does an existing custody arrangement permit relocation?  Can a relocation be blocked or disputed? We can also represent you in litigation over any of these matters. Contact us online or at 519.973.1500.