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Separation and divorce

Travelling abroad with children after a separation or divorce

Parents who have separated may need to collaborate on activities with their children, especially when major decisions are necessary. Is a trip abroad a major decision? What should you consider if you want to take such a trip? Here’s what you need to keep in mind.

You need your ex’s consent before travelling

Unless a court decides otherwise, you must notify your ex of your intention to travel abroad with your child and ask for his or her consent.

Whether or not a child will travel abroad is a major decision that requires the consent of both parents, regardless of how custody is shared.

To give consent, the non-travelling parent will need to know:

  • Where the child will be
  • When the child will leave and return
  • How he or she will be able to communicate with the child during the trip

It’s a good idea to inform your ex of your travel plans as soon as possible (for example, at least 30 days before your departure).

To prevent potential conflict, you can also draw up an advance, written agreement on the steps to take when one of you wishes to travel with the child.

You may want to agree on, for example:

  • When to share your travel plans
  • The information to be sent to the non-travelling parent
  • How much time the non-travelling parent has to give consent
  • The documents to be provided

Is written authorization from the non-travelling parent necessary?

We strongly recommend that you have written authorization from your ex on hand during your trip as it may be requested by border services officials or airlines.

The Government of Canada provides a sample consent letter frequently used by separated parents travelling abroad.

Formulaire

Recommended Consent Letter for Children Travelling Abroad (Government of Canada)

This letter may be signed before a notary to guarantee its authenticity.

Be sure to communicate with your ex well in advance to ensure you get the document in time for your departure.

What to do if your ex objects to the trip

If circumstances permit and your departure date is not too close, you and your ex can meet with a mediator to try to resolve your disagreement.

More generally, mediation can be useful by helping parents anticipate how decisions about travelling abroad with the child should be made, making it easier to cooperate.

You have a right to free family mediation hours through the government of Quebec’s family mediation program.

If your ex objects to your trip abroad with your child and no agreement is possible, you can ask a judge to decide.

To do so, you must file an “Application for travel authorization” with the Superior Court of Quebec.

To decide, the judge will consider the child’s interests, as well as the reasons for the trip and why the other parent is opposed to it.

The judge could ask the following questions, among others:

  • Were the travel details provided to the non-travelling parent?
  • Does the trip pose a threat to the child’s health, security or development? Is the child’s return to Canada uncertain?
  • If the child is old enough and mature enough to express his or her opinion, does he or she want to go on the trip?
  • Do the travel dates interfere with the school calendar?
  • Do the travel plans interfere with the parenting time or custody time of the non-travelling parent?

The judge will decide whether to authorize the trip. If applicable, the judge may also authorize you to apply for your child’s passport without your ex’s consent.

If the judge authorizes the trip, don’t forget to bring an official copy of the judgment in your luggage.

Depending on the official language of your country of destination, you may have to get the document translated. Most of the time, if you request, the judge can translate the conclusion of the judgment into English to make it easier for foreign authorities to read.

Important documents to pack when travelling abroad with your child

  • The child’s valid Canadian passport

  • The written authorization of the non-travelling parent OR a copy of the judgment authorizing the trip

  • Another identity document for the child such as the act of birth

  • A copy of the custody judgment (or parenting time judgment in the case of a divorce proceeding), if applicable

Be sure to communicate with your ex well in advance to ensure you get the documents in time for your departure.

The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.

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