April 2015
PFD | Family

Separated parents: Plan your holidays!

By Marie-Ève Dufort Lawyer

If you plan to take your minor child abroad on holidays this summer, be sure to plan ahead! In order to allow a minor child to travel internationally, several countries require the written consent of the parents. Also, all minor children must have their own passports. In Canada, these documents must be presented upon re-entry.

A permission to travel should specify the first and last names of the parents, the passport number of the parent who is travelling with the minor child, the address and telephone number where the child and parent may be reached in case of an emergency, the destination and travel dates. A sample form is available online on the website of the government of Canada.

In addition, a parent travelling alone with his or her minor child must have the child's passport. Both parents must sign their child's passport application but only a custodial parent may submit the request. Otherwise, passport authorities will decline the application. When parents share custody, either parent may file the application. More information on applying for a passport is available here.

Should a parent refuse to sign a minor child's permission to travel or hand over his or her passport, the parent seeking to go abroad must apply to the court and request that the judge supplement its consent to that of the parent.

Courts will always rule in a child's best interest. Should a parent have serious grounds to oppose travelling (the risk of abduction, for example), the judge may deny the request. However, recreational travel is generally in a child's best interest, and it would be surprising for a judge to prohibit a parent from travelling alone with his or her child.

A judge may also issue a series of orders allowing a parent to submit a passport application alone or travel internationally with a child without the other parent's consent.

Plan ahead and ask the other parent for the mandatory papers several weeks in advance in order to avoid any last minute stress. You will also have enough time to address the court should the parent refuse.

Enjoy your holidays and have a nice trip!