Out-of-country vacations for children whose parents reside separately and apart is more than just a task for a travel agent. It is necessary for the traveling parent to obtain the signed authorization of the non-traveling parent in order to obtain a Canadian passport for a child. Furthermore, the notarized written consent of the non-traveling parent to the child’s travel is considered essential as a result of tighter security at borders and customs, and due to greater concern by government officials about international child abduction.
Recently, I have noticed an increase in contentious files relating to out-of-country vacations for children whose parents reside separately and apart. A typical scenario is when one parent wishes to remove a child from Canada for a vacation of 1-3 weeks, while the other parent will not provide his or her consent for the child’s travel due to concerns with the proposed travel plans. Often, the concerns of the non-traveling parent are as follows:
If the issues cannot be worked out collectively by the parents, the Court must resolve this. Questions that the Court considers in determining whether or not to permit the travel are as follows:
Should the travel be allowed by the Court, in order to alleviate the fears and concerns of the non-traveling parent, to the extent possible, the Court will order the travelling parent to provide a complete itinerary for travel, including: flight arrival and departure times, contact phone numbers and addresses of stay. The Court will also require the traveling parent to facilitate frequent — if not daily — communication between the child and the non-traveling parent during the holiday.
Ken Nathens is a partner in the law firm of Nathens Siegel, a Toronto firm that restricts its practice to divorce and family-law issues. Ken has experience in all aspects of divorce and Ontario family law and devotes much of his time to assisting clients with custody and access disputes.
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