DOES YOUR CUSTODY AGREEMENT OR ORDER PROVIDE FOR EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION – Most custody orders require parents to exchange information regarding travel with the children. Generally you will need to provide, in writing, the itinerary, including dates of travel, flight information, if applicable, phone number and address of where the children will be staying.
PASSPORTS – If you intend to travel out of the country you must make sure your children’s passports are valid. For children under the age of 16 both parents must appear and be present to obtain a passport. There are limited circumstances where one parent can appear, but you need to check the Department of State Website at www.travel.state.gov for those specific requirements. It could take 6-8 weeks to obtain the passport so apply early! Minor passports are only valid for five years.
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL LETTERS – As a result of the increase in cases of child abduction, the airline or TSA officer may request a letter of consent to travel with a minor child if that minor child is travelling with only one parent or with a relative or friend. You can obtain a sample travel consent form on various websites and in particulate at www.travel.state.gov.
FLIGHT REQUIREMENTS – If you would like to have your child fly as an unaccompanied minor you must check the airline website as to the eligible age as each airline has different requirements. Most airlines require the minor child to be anywhere between 5-7 on domestic non-stop flights, but the age requirement may be older for connecting flights and international travel. There is also an additional fee which varies depending upon the airline. If you are separated or divorced, you must defer to your custody order as to any other requirements such as consent from the other parent. If the order is silent and you want to request or prevent the travel, you could obtain emergency relief from the Court. Despite the age requirements of the airline a Judge may agree that a certain age is too young to travel as an unaccompanied minor.
PLAN EARLY!!!! If you need consent of the other parent you must provide the required notice per your custody order. If you want to travel internationally you need to make sure you have the necessary documents.
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