Travel outside of Canada with your child

Travel outside of Canada with your child

Am I allowed to take our child outside Canada without my ex’s permission?

After the divorce or separation, there are some challenging situations that you may face years ahead. A common one is when you want to travel outside of Canada with your child. You may not be able to travel with your child outside the country without your ex’s permission.

You are likely to be asked to prove that you’re allowed to travel with your child outside of Canada if:

  • You’re travelling alone with a minor (a child less than 18 years old)
  • You’re the child’s only parent

Even in a situation where you have agreed with your ex on custody matters, you may still be required to prove during travel that you’re allowed to go with the children out of Canada.

Here’s what we suggest you do if planning a vacation with your child outside of Canada to avoid issues.

Review your joint custody agreement

There are cases where the issue of international travel is catered for in the custody arrangement. For instance, if you have joint custody, your spouse may have a right to oppose exiting the country with your child without consent. The custody agreement may stipulate the steps needed before leaving the country with the child. For instance, you may need to get your ex’s written consent, provide more information on where you’ll be going, flight details, and contact numbers. You may also be required to give a notice period before the day of travel.

Carry your court order or separation agreement

If you have a court order that shows you don’t need your ex’s permission to travel with your child, you will need to carry this when you travel. Carry these documents with you to avoid any issues at the entry or exit at the border.

Get a travel consent letter from your ex

A travel consent letter is a document often requested by the immigration authorities or border agents when you enter or leave the border. Without a travel consent letter, your trip may be delayed or cancelled. Travel consent letters are typically signed by parents who are not accompanying the child on the trip. The letter may not only be a requirement for parents who are separated or divorced but may also be ideal for those who are married or common-law partners living with the child to have one when travelling alone.

A travel consent letter is strongly recommended even if you have sole custody of the child, especially if the other parent has access and visitation rights. However, this letter may not be a requirement if the other parent has been denied access rights by a court order. Since you won’t need a travel consent letter, you’ll need a copy of the court order to show that your ex-spouse has been denied access rights.

If your ex doesn’t sign a travel consent letter

If your ex has refused to sign a travel consent letter, you may consider applying for a court order. In most cases, the court permits parents to travel with their children unless the trip poses a danger to the child. If you need help drafting a travel consent letter or your ex has refused to cooperate, contact our experienced family lawyers to help you navigate the situation.