If you’re moving toward divorce with your spouse and you’ll be co-parenting one or more children, it’s important to learn about the purpose of a child travel consent letter. You may see it referred to by different names. However, it’s a document signed by both parents that spells out the details of a planned trip by one parent with their child(ren).
As you negotiate your custody arrangement, you’ll stipulate how far a parent can travel with a child without requiring the other parent’s written consent. That may be a specific number of miles or outside the state, for example. This letter is always a good thing to have when one parent with shared custody takes a child on any kind of vacation, even if it’s not required by the custody order and parenting plan. It can give parents peace of mind and help them stay in touch with their kids.
This letter is important to have if you’re questioned by authorities
This is most likely to happen when flying as you go through TSA and potentially other security checkpoints. Even airline personnel are trained to be on the watch for child traffickers. A single adult traveling with a child (especially one of another race or ethnicity or who doesn’t share their last name) can be cause for suspicion.
Even on a road trip, however, if you’re stopped for speeding, an officer may ask for proof of your relationship with a child. While these questions can feel invasive and even discriminatory, most professionals who ask for this information are looking out for your child’s safety.
What information should you include in the consent to travel letter?
Typically, it’s a good idea to include as much information as you know. The main points are usually:
- Where you’ll be traveling (including an itinerary of your trip, including flight or train info)
- Where you’ll be staying (for example, hotels, vacation rentals, relatives’ homes and/or campgrounds)
- Contact information for locations or people you’ll be with
- How often, when and how your child will communicate with their other parent
It’s best to have the letter witnessed and notarized. If you have it reviewed by a legal professional, they’ll be able to handle that part for you.
Even if you and your co-parent have an amicable and trusting relationship and don’t feel you need this, it can come in handy if you’re questioned by anyone who doesn’t know you or your child. This can help your travels with your child go more smoothly and save them unnecessary stress.