When divorce hits your family, it introduces all kinds of new challenges. Now that you’re a single parent, you’re taking on double duty in areas where you used to have another parent helping out. It’s often harder to maintain family traditions – including travel and vacations. But if you’re still financially able to take a vacation with your kids as a single parent, it can be an amazing and rewarding experience. Now more than ever, you could use a getaway – and time together to strengthen bonds and establish new family memories.
But before you grab your passport and head for the airport – don’t forget that you may have some additional paperwork considerations now that you’re traveling with your children after divorce. Your Sensei has heard from some of his divorced friends that did NOT realize this, and who had their vacation plans ruined before they even began – because they were blocked at security, bags and kids and all. Why? The parent didn’t have a signed and notarized letter of consent from the other parent granting permission to take the kids out of the country.
Ugh. Anyone who has ever gone through an airport with their kids – single or divorced – can imagine what an awful scenario this would be. You’re all excited to get somewhere, you’re all packed up, kids are (hopefully) maintaining good moods while waiting in line – and then in one moment a TSA official tells you you’re not going anywhere.
Hopefully your divorce ended without any concerns about either parent harming the children. But because not every divorce works that way, there are rules in place intended to prevent one parent from leaving the country and taking their children with them without the other parent’s consent. Especially if you plan to travel internationally, now more than ever you need to make sure you’ve got written consent from the other parent before you go through security and get on an airplane. No letter, no boarding.
Do not let this happen to you. Figure out what you’ll need to present at the airport, and coordinate with your ex well ahead of time to make sure you’re covered.
Rules vary from country to country, and I encourage you to do further specific research on your own to find your specific requirements. But here are some general examples and resources:
- US Customs and Border Protection
- Sample Letter Template (.PDF file)
- Alaska Airlines describes things well here
Adding this simple but necessary additional step to your vacation travel planning can make the difference between a ruined vacation, and this:
How about you? Anyone have any other tips or advice for traveling single with children? Or worse – any horror stories about being blocked at security without that letter of consent?