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With the lifting of travel restrictions many Canadian families are planning vacations.  Travelling with children of separation or divorce is more complicated than it may seem. There are several factors co-parents need to think about before embarking on a trip with a child.  A Parenting Plan or Court Order will typically outline what is permissible for travel. If one does not exist, or if you are seeking to vary the terms that do exist, here are some things that you may wish to consider:

  1. It is always important to consider how challenging this may be for your co-parent. Approaching all arrangements with compassion, empathy, and thoughtfulness is best;
  2. Plan ahead. Speak with your co-parent to make sure the dates are suitable and be mindful of work commitments, extracurricular activities, and extended family obligations;
  3. Set clear boundaries for expectations of communications while away such as text messages, telephone calls, photographs, and video calls etc.;
  4. Provide your co-parent with your travel itinerary, including flight, train, bus and hotel information well in advance of the trip; 
  5. Be mindful of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction when travelling internationally.
  6. Passport Canada has very precise rules about children’s passport applications. The parent making an application for a child’s passport must satisfy Passport Canada that they have the legal right to submit an application and that there are no restrictions on travel for that child; 
  7. A Letter of Consent may be requested to be carried during travel;
  8. Be mindful of required documentation when travelling. Allow yourself sufficient time to obtain the relevant documents for both yourself and the children travelling with you;
  9. It may be necessary to go to mediation and/or Court if your co-parent unreasonably refuses the travel. This is why it is important to provide notice as far in advance as possible, to provide options for recourse in the event the other parent does not consent. The Court will consider the reason for travel, details about the destination and the best interests of the children; and,
  10. After your vacation and return to the normal routine, it is not uncommon for the other co-parent to notice behavioural differences in the children. It is important to always keep the communication with your co-parent open about any possible concerns.

A successful vacation with your children can be empowering and healing. However, any travel can also be a source of conflict while you are experiencing the separation and divorce process. Here at Mills & Mills LLP, our experienced Family Law lawyers can assist you and your co-parent with avoiding unnecessary disputes and focus on memory-building opportunities.  To learn more about how we may assist you and to book a consultation, contact us online or by telephone at (416) 863-0125. The material provided through the Mills & Mills LLP website is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind.

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