Considerations for Separated Parents Traveling Abroad
We were recently browsing through Jeff Lander’s article Divorced Women: Take Precautions Before Your Children Travel Internationally With Your Ex-Husband published in Forbes. Jeff offers an interesting take on the dangers of allowing your children to travel internationally with your husband, although really these warnings could be equally applicable for either spouse.
The warnings presented by Jeff in his article should be considered seriously by divorced parents in Ontario, but it may be wise to take a second and consider whether it would be preferable to avoid escalating things. Jeff’s advice to require a bond or financial insurance from your spouse before allowing travel should not be the status quo for most divorced couples and although the article makes the practice of requesting a “Ne Exeat” bond seem typical this is not the case in Ontario.
In Ontario, even though you may not trust your spouse, unless you have evidence proving that s/he is a flight risk, the default assumption is that s/he should be allowed to travel internationally with your children. This is the position that most courts would take in Ontario and it would be wise to keep that in mind before trying anything rash. The court will decide these kinds of custody and access issues by considering the “best interests” of the children and in most cases it will be found to be in the children’s interests to be allowed to go on a vacation with either spouse.
In the case where you do believe that the other parent is a flight risk Ontario women can take steps to protect their children. If seriously concerned it may be the best course of action to immediately initiate a court action in order to keep the children in a safe place or to get a court order for possession of their passports. In situations where it is only a possible flight risk, then it may not be wise or financially plausible to take this route. An alternate solution would be to take a page out of Mr. Lander’s article and negotiate having your spouse pay a bond into court or to you in the style mentioned in the article. This middle of the road solution could save you from an otherwise heated and expensive battle in court.
In most cases in Ontario, when a parent wants to travel internationally with their children, the only thing they require is a letter of consent to travel from their spouse. A consent letter may be requested by immigration authorities when leaving the country, when entering or leaving a foreign country or upon re-entry to Canada. A common courtesy in this situation is for the traveling parent to provide the travel itinerary for the children in advance of the trip to the parent remaining at home and all relevant contact information. This is not a requirement under Ontario law but it can be incorporated as a requirement under a separation agreement or in a court order where young children are involved.