Traveling with Children? Make Sure You Read This First!

Traveling with Children? Make Sure You Read This First! by Joshua Katz

{2:20 minutes to read} What rights do custodial and noncustodial parents have to take their children on domestic or international trips?

Custody/visitation agreements and court orders should be as detailed and specific as possible. Agreements should specify whether or not either parent needs consent from the other parent prior to taking the child on a trip.

The agreement should also specify:

  • If consent needs to be in writing;
  • How much advance notice is required; and
  • How detailed of an itinerary must be provided.

International travel requires children to have passports.

Generally, in order for a child to obtain a passport, both parents must sign the application and both must appear in person. If it is not possible for both parents to appear, written and notarized consent will be needed.

If a parent has sole custody, they must bring proof of sole custody (court order) to the passport office. The custody decree must indicate “sole custody,” not “full custody” or any other label.

Flying with children

Despite some parents’ concerns, it is important to understand that air travel is still statistically about a thousand times safer than driving.

Every airport has different rules! There are no federal regulations for a single parent traveling with children. You could be stopped at immigration and asked to provide proof that you have the legal right to travel with the child. Without proper authorization, you could be charged with International Parental Child Abduction.

The U.S. Department of State recommends that the parent have a letter of authorization with them any time they travel alone with the child, even if the parents are still happily married.

What can you do to prevent the noncustodial parent from boarding an international flight with your child?

If you fear that a noncustodial parent is going to board a plane with your child, despite a court order stating that he or she is not allowed to do so, what can you do?

There is a common misconception that you can have your child’s name added to the “No Fly List.”  However, that is simply not true. The “No Fly List” is for known terrorists.

What you can do is contact law enforcement officials and they can notify the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). After the NCIC has been contacted, the child’s passport will be flagged and travel restrictions will be accessed at airport security.

If these, or similar issues, concern you, ask your attorney if he is familiar with the drafting of these agreements, or contact Plaine & Katz, LLP for a consultation.

How will you determine if you have the proper credentials to travel alone with your child?


Plaine & Katz, LLP
80-02 Kew Gardens Rd.
Suite # 1050
Kew Gardens, NY 11415

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