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Is My Ex-Spouse Allowed to Take Our Child Out of the Country?

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Is My Ex-Spouse Allowed to Take Our Child Out of the Country?

Has your ex-spouse informed you they want to take your child out of the country? The thought of your child being in a foreign country without you can be terrifying. Is there anything you can do to stop your ex-spouse from taking your child to another country?

Child custody orders rarely give a parent the right to travel outside the United States. Therefore, your ex-spouse must petition the court for permission to take your child outside the country. 

You can object to the travel plans by filing a response to the petition. Then, with the help of an experienced Orlando child custody lawyer, you can fight your ex-spouse’s request to take your child to another country. Contact our team Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC  at (407) 831-0203.

Why Would a Parent Want to Leave the Country With Their Child?

Why Would a Parent Want to Leave the Country With Their Child?

There are many reasons why a parent might schedule travel plans to another country with their child. The reason for travel could impact the process your ex-spouse must follow to obtain court approval to take a child outside the United States.

Traveling to Another Country With Your Child 

Your ex-spouse might want to go on vacation to another country or visit their family. If so, you need to review your child custody order with an experienced Orlando family law attorney. Your custody order might address the procedure your spouse must take to travel outside of the country with your child. 

Your child must have a passport to travel to another country. The U.S. State Department requires that both parents sign the application for a passport if a child is under 16 years old. 

Therefore, you can stop a passport from being issued by refusing to sign your child’s passport application. However, if your ex-spouse has a court order permitting them to obtain the passport, your signature might not be required. If you are concerned your spouse might try to obtain a passport for your child without your approval, you might want to enroll in the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program.

If the custody order does not address travel out of the country with a child, your spouse might need to petition the court for approval. You should be prepared to object to the petition with evidence proving that traveling to another country would not be in your child’s best interest. 

Relocating to Another Country With a Child

A parent might desire to move to another country with their child. However, Florida law defines child relocation as moving more than 50 miles from a parent’s residence for 60 days or longer. The definition includes traveling with your child for vacation, healthcare, education, or other purposes. 

Florida statutes explain the process of relocating a child. Your ex-spouse must either have your agreement for relocation or a court order. You should contact an Orlando relocation lawyer immediately upon learning about your ex-spouse’s intention to relocate.

Relocating a Child to Another Country by Agreement 

Parents can agree for their child to move to another city, state, or country. However, you must explicitly consent for your ex-spouse to relocate to another country. Furthermore, your agreement must contain a new time-sharing schedule and the details for handling the transportation for time-sharing. 

If you do not consent to the relocation, your ex-spouse must petition the court for approval to move your child outside the United States.

Petitioning to Relocate a Child to Another Country

If you do not consent to the relocation, your ex-spouse must file a petition with the court for an order approving the move. The petition for relocation must explain the specific reasons why the parent wants to relocate to another country with the child, including supporting evidence. 

The parent must also propose a new time-sharing agreement. They must explain how they intend to facilitate visitation between the non-custodial parent and the child when the child lives in another country. 

It is crucial that you contact an Orlando child custody lawyer immediately if you receive papers asking the court to relocate your child. If you do not answer the petition before the response deadline, the court might presume the relocation is proper and grant the petition.

If you respond to the petition to relocate to another country, your ex-spouse must prove the move is in your child’s best interest. However, you must also present a strong defense with evidence proving the move is not in your child’s best interest.

How Do Florida Courts Decide a Child’s Best Interest in a Relocation Case?

Courts decide all child custody cases in Florida based on the best interests of the child. Therefore, even if you and your spouse submit a consent order agreeing to your child leaving the country, the court will consider whether going to another country is in your child’s best interest.

Florida statutes list several factors judges consider when determining what would be in a child’s best interest. 

Some factors a judge might consider when deciding whether to allow a parent to take a child to another country include, but are not limited to:

  • The reasons why the parent wants to travel to another country with their child
  • The relationship between the child and each of the parents
  • The impact traveling or relocating to another country will have on the child and the non-relocating parent
  • The developmental state and age of the child 
  • How the travel plans or relocation plans impact the child’s relationship with the parent remaining in the United States
  • The feasibility of the proposed time-sharing schedule 
  • Whether the travel or relocation will improve the child’s quality of life
  • Any history of child abuse, domestic violence, addiction, or other wrongdoing by either parent
  • The child’s preferences about going to or moving to another country
  • The ability of the parents to communicate effectively regarding their child
  • The ability and disposition of the parent requesting relocation to foster a continuing and close relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent

As discussed above, the parent requesting to remove the child from the country has the burden of proving that the travel or move is in the child’s best interest. However, you should be ready to refute your ex-spouse’s evidence. You should never assume your ex-spouse will not be able to meet the level of proof required to take your child outside of the United States. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With an Orlando Child Custody Lawyer If Your Ex-Spouse Wants to Take Your Child Out of the Country

Child custody disputes are stressful and emotional. You want what is best for your child. Contact our Orlando child custody attorneys to discuss how we can help you protect your parental rights and your child’s best interest.

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