Domestic and international travel with children during divorce

Whether the other parent wishes to take the child on a trip to visit relatives in South Carolina or Spain, the details and requirements for travel outside of Texas can be negotiated and reduced to writing in agreement between the parents.

As we move closer to the upcoming holiday season, many us consider our options to travel for vacation and to be with family. There might be more to think about if you are making travel plans while also going through or are planning to file for divorce and have children. Travel destinations located within Texas, often no more than a few hours away, may be easier to accommodate than locations outside the state or overseas. International travel is addressed in the Texas Family Code. Additionally, our county courts use standing orders in divorce cases, and they address travel. A best practice involves negotiating issues involving domestic and international travel with your spouse and entering into an agreement to be included during your temporary orders hearing where the courts set forth the ground rules for the parties involved in the divorce.

There are several reasons you may want to restrict domestic and international travel.

When a family has never been apart for a significant amount of time or distance, it can be challenging to everyone involved when one parent wants to take the children on a trip involving significant distance. What happens if the child is on the other side of the country with their father and one of them is injured and needs to go to the hospital? What happens if they are outside the country?

International travel is a unique concern when one parent is a citizen of another country and/or has family overseas. The greatest fear is that one parent will take the children to another country and refuse to return them to Texas. There may be little a Texas court can do if there is an abduction in a country that does not recognize the authority of a U.S. state court. International treaties involving cooperation among nations may apply, but only among those that adopted and signed them.

There are several sources of controlling law on the issues of children and travel during a divorce.

The Texas Family Code chapter concerning risks of international abductions includes provisions to restrict international travel if the court finds it necessary :

· Appoint a third party as a child's sole managing conservator;

· Require supervised visitation of a child with approved restrictions;

· Prohibit a parent from removing a child from school or seeing the child outside supervised restrictions;

· Prohibit out of state or international travel and order the safeguarding of passports;

· Require parental cooperation with U.S. State Department concerning court-ordered travel restrictions;

· Require parent to post bond or security offsetting costs of retrieving an abducted child;

· Authorize law enforcement to assist in abduction prevention measures.

Additionally, local county courts have their own local rules, "standing orders," regarding children and where they may travel during a divorce. A concern about interstate travel is based on the risk that one parent might take a child to another state to establish residency and file court actions in that state.

The Collin County Standing Order states that the parties must refrain from, "Removing a child from the State of Texas for the purpose of changing the child's residence, acting directly or in concert with others, without the written agreement of both parties or an order of this Court. " Note that this language does not concern vacations, but a parent may ask the court to order additional language preventing out of state travel for any reason without the agreement of the parties.

In Denton County divorces, the Standing Order includes the same language as above and additionally states, "This paragraph shall not prohibit or restrict a party from so removing the children if an active prior court order gives that party the right to designate the children's primary residence outside the State of Texas without regard to geographic location. "

Compromising and reaching agreement on travel in temporary orders gives us all more control.

Whether the other parent wishes to take the child on a trip to visit relatives in South Carolina or Spain, the details and requirements for travel outside of Texas can be negotiated and reduced to writing in agreement between the parents. Shortly after a divorce is filed, there is a temporary orders hearing in which the judge considers and rules on what the parties can and cannot do during the divorce. At the temporary orders hearing, agreements regarding travel may become part of the temporary orders.

Some may object to the other parent taking a child on a trip out of state or overseas. There may be room to negotiate and compromise. In some cases, a parent concerned with the other taking a child far from home, may be accept additional parenting time in exchange for agreeing to allow less restrictions on travel. In all cases, the parties to the divorce and the courts should be ultimately concerned with the best interests of children and making travel restrictions with children's interests and safety in mind.

Dallas, Denton and Collin County Board Certified divorce and family law attorney, Mark Scroggins, along with their team at Scroggins Family Law represent clients in a variety of divorce and family law matters including travel with children and restrictions where necessary.

At Scroggins Family Law, our Dallas, Denton and Collin County divorce attorneys have more than over 24 years of collective experience with family law cases. When you retain our firm, you can trust that your case is in the hands of a highly skilled, dedicated professional. we understand the unique challenges of a high value divorce case, and more importantly, have the knowledge and experience you need on your side. Call us today, (214) 469-3100, to learn more about Texas divorce and family law.

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Texas Family Code Sec. 153.003 Abduction Prevention Measures

Collin County Standing Order Regarding Children, Property and Conduct of the Parties.

Denton County Standing Order Regarding Children, Property and Conduct of the Parties.

Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Why Choose Board Certified?