THE REPRESENTATION YOU NEED IN ORDER TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY
Posted in Child Relocation on September 5, 2018
International travel with children has grown increasingly common over the past several years, and so have the number of marriages between parents of varying national backgrounds. Traveling with children often entails some stress, but this increases significantly when international travel is concerned. Additionally, a divorced parent may worry about an ex-spouse abducting the couple’s children and taking them out of the country.
If you plan to travel internationally with your children, or if your ex-spouse may take the children out of the country for vacation or to visit relatives in another country, then your custody agreement should be your first resource for determining the proper procedures for these events.
Custody Agreements and Travel
When couples with children divorce, the custody agreement will typically outline each parent’s rights and obligations, and this should include domestic and international travel. For example, if one parent has family in Canada, the custody agreement should have clear instructions for visits outside the country, each parent’s custodial rights, and any adjustments that will take place to compensate the other parent for the trip, if applicable.
One element of the agreement could state that if the children spend the school year with their mother and the summer with their father and the father has family or property in another country, he may take the children out of the country for summer vacation since it would not interfere with their schooling. There would likely be specific requirements in place for phone calls, correspondence, emergencies, and other possible issues. If for some reason the father is unable to take the kids for the summer one year, he may ask for an adjustment to the custody agreement to compensate for lost time.
If you plan to take your children out of the country, it is always in everyone’s best interest to notify your ex well in advance. Make plans and be sure that your ex understands the details of your travel itinerary, how he or she can reach you and the kids, and what to do in case of emergency. It’s best to obtain written consent from your ex for any trip outside of the U.S.
International Child Abduction
If one parent fails or neglects to obtain consent from the other parent and takes the couple’s children out of the country, the traveling parent may become the subject of an international child abduction case and face significant legal penalties. Depending on the other country’s immigration and child custody policies for international travelers, it’s possible for embassies and even government officials to participate in such a case.
The U.S. State Department advises parents who intend to travel internationally with their children to obtain letters of consent from ex-spouses staying behind in the U.S. Have your divorce attorney retain a copy of this letter just in case, and file it with the U.S. embassy in your destination country. It’s also wise to secure passports for your children, even if your destination country does not require them for minors. Having as much documentation as possible will help you sort out any confusion and protect against an unwarranted kidnapping charge.
If your ex-spouse does attempt to abduct your children and take them to another country without your consent, you should notify local law enforcement as soon as you become aware of the situation and contact the relevant travel companies to see if you can intercept the abduction. Notifying the airline your ex intends to use can help delay abduction long enough for local law enforcement to retrieve your children. If your ex successfully reaches his or her destination country with your children, local law enforcement will likely partner with federal law enforcement and international entities to locate your children and bring them home.
If you are concerned about your ex attempting an international abduction or you simply want to protect yourself and your kids before an international trip, speak the a family law attorney as soon as possible to review your custody agreement.
A divorce is hard on everyone in the family, especially the children. Many times, the custodial parent will want to move to a new city or state and start life anew. While the parent may feel this necessary, child relocation is often a contentious subject between the two parents, because one will feel that their rights and abilities as a parent are being violated.
Process of Filing for Child Relocation in Colorado
If you wish to move far enough away from the other parent that the geographic ties between them and the children would be erased, you must file a petition with the court if you and the other parent cannot come to an agreement on your own. The relocation papers are not filed until after a court order regarding parenting time is given. The process of filing for relocation includes:
- Written notification must be given to the other parent – and usually their lawyer as well – which contains the location you wish to move to, why you are moving and a revised parenting plan.
- A filing fee of $105 is required. If you cannot pay it, you must complete a Motion to File without Payment.
- Other forms that could be necessary include: sworn financial statement and child support worksheets.
- Upon filing all the proper forms, there will be a court hearing to determine the validity of your wishes.
The forms can be gotten from the Colorado Judicial Branch website, and should be as honest and thorough as possible. If the other parent disproves any of your claims for why the move is necessary you may face criminal charges.
Colorado Child Relocation Court Hearing
Bottom line, the court tries to determine what is best for the children. According to Colorado law, the court will take all of the following into account during the hearing:
- The reasons why the party wishes to relocate with the child.
- The reasons why the opposing party is objecting to the proposed relocation.
- The history and quality of each party’s relationship with the child since any previous parenting time order.
- The educational opportunities for the child at the existing location and at the proposed new location.
- The presence or absence of extended family at the existing location and at the proposed new location.
- Any advantages of the child remaining with the primary caregiver.
- The anticipated impact of the move on the child.
- Whether the court will be able to fashion a reasonable parenting time schedule if the change requested is permitted.
- Any other relevant factors bearing on the best interests of the child.
All of this information must be provided in order for the court to consider your petition seriously. If your reasons for relocation include fear of violence or abuse by the other parent towards you or the children, Colorado law stipulates that the motion be heard within seven days.
It’s worth re-mentioning that the court will determine the best course of action based on the needs of the children; a move within Colorado or even within the same metropolitan area can create logistical and emotional problems for the children, so your reasons and evidence for the necessity of relocation should be convincing.
A good Colorado divorce attorney will help you sift through the paperwork and comply with all legal requirements. Going through a separation is not just difficult for you but for the children as well, and an attorney can help make the process as painless as possible.
For more information on divorces: see our divorce FAQ’s.