Travelling with kids can be so much fun, but it can be stressful if you’re planning to travel out of Canada with kids after separation or divorce. There are more things to consider than just the itinerary!
What should parents consider when travelling?
Although most of our articles are for those who are separating or divorcing, this topic relating to travel with children applies anytime children under the age of 18 are travelling with one parent or guardian or unaccompanied.
Primarily when a parent or guardian is travelling with their child they should focus on 2 things – what type of travel is allowed according to the parenting plan, and what documentation is required for that travel.
Let’s talk first about the parenting plan. This may be a court order or a separation agreement which would set out what’s allowed as far as travel.
Some things to consider when building a parenting plan would be:
- Are parents free to travel with the children during their parenting time or are there restrictions relating to things like travel distance or locations?
- Where notice is required, what does that look like? How much detail and how far ahead would that occur?
Each family I work with has different views on what they want to know about where their children are when they’re with the other parent. I always first listen to the parents’ views on travel, hear any concerns, and then ensure that the parenting plan addresses all of the issues.
Next, the documentation.
Although there’s no legal requirement for parents or guardians to carry a consent form for travel with their children, when travelling outside of Canada it’s likely that customs and immigration will want to see that consent has been provided by any non-accompanying parents or guardians, so it’s best to have that form to ensure smooth travels.
Within Canada, there’s no provincial border patrol that will monitor travel, so it’s best to place any travel restrictions in your parenting plan.
For travel outside of Canada, what are the requirements for a Consent to Travel form?
There’s no specific form required by the customs agents. The point of the Consent to Travel form is for Customs officials to have enough information to be reassured that the non-travelling parent or guardian has consented to the travel.
The more information the travelling parent can provide about the children, the travel itinerary, and the non-accompanying parent or guardian the better.
Although there’s no legal requirement for the form to be notarized, I definitely recommend this level of formality be followed. Technically, the form can be witnessed by anyone over the age of majority. However, the more official that the form looks the less likely you are to receive questions from customs officials about the authenticity of the form.
Pre-COVID we had lots of people, both clients and the public, who would request Travel Consent forms. Some people bring their own forms with them while others want us to prepare them. Either way works, provided that the necessary information is contained in the form.
When should parents look at getting this Travel Consent signed?
I always recommend that the form is filled out and signed before the travel booking is completed.
It’s not actually needed until you get to the customs agent at the border, but there’s nothing worse than having your travel with kids all booked, excited for a vacation, and then finding out that the other parent won’t consent.
Getting the form completed is so simple and quick, why not get it done so that you can resolve any consent issues without it affecting your travel plans. 3 simple steps:
First, complete the form – either we complete it for you or you can complete it;
Second, the non-travelling parent or guardian will come to our office to have the form notarized;
And finally, the originals will be ready for pick up by the travelling parent.
What if the other parent doesn’t consent to the travel?
There’s really only 2 options – come to agreement on the travel or get into Court to have a judge decide on whether the travel is allowed absent the other parent’s consent.
If the travelling parent waits too long, and the trip is too close, sometimes there may not be time to get into court.
As I always say, there’s typically room to negotiate outside of the court room either by the parents sitting down to discuss any concerns, or by getting a mediator involved to help parents to hear each other out.
Henka Divorce Law & Mediation is a Collaborative Law and Family Mediation firm that helps families thrive as they transition to separation, divorce, or cohabitation. Understanding that every journey is different, we guide families through the right legal or mediation process that fits their unique situation.
Our client service is built on three pillars – focusing on the future, nurturing and supporting children, and working together towards well-being. This includes considering everyone’s needs throughout the process. We work closely with families to provide a meaningful and fair resolution, while keeping costs down by staying out of court.
We serve families in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada through their separation or divorce by providing in-person and virtual Collaborative Law or Mediation services.
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