Summer Travel Legal Agenda


Some of the complications arise in the family law environment from passport and visa problems. That is particularly true where the parties have children and are contesting custody. In these situations, it requires the signature of both parents to receive passports and most visas, or an order from the family court, before the federal or foreign (in some circumstances) government will issue the necessary travel documents.


Also, even if the children already have passports, you may not be allowed to travel out of the country with them unless you have a notarized permission from the other parent or a certified copy of an order from the court. It is not wise for litigants in family law cases to depend on the good will of their former spouses, or to assume that authorization once given, will remain if changes occur in their case. Negative or unhappy developments in a dissolution of marriage litigation can result in the other parent rescinding travel permission and promises of cooperation.


If that does or may happen, it can end or complicate summer travel plans. Make sure, right now, that you either have a notarized permission letter from the other parent or an order from the court authorizing your travel with the children. If you have not already obtained these, plus the mandatory passports and visas, start that process immediately. If the other parent will cooperate, get a notarized permission letter from him or her as soon as possible. Also, have them sign the applications for any passports and visas needed for the countries to which you will travel.


If you have already surmised that no such cooperation will be forthcoming, hire experienced family law counsel immediately. It will take anywhere from a few to several days for your attorney to prepare effective moving papers. While your attorney may get the family court to issue an order ex parte, or on an emergency basis, that is not the usual course, as summer travel is not viewed as an emergency.


However, you may be able to obtain an order allowing an expedited hearing using the ex parte process. This can save you a great deal of time, as the regularly-noticed hearing usually is not set for much sooner than 30-50 days after filing of the moving papers. The point: Don’t wait to solidify your summer travel legalities; you may run out of time!

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