Should I give my ex a "travel letter" to let her leave the country with the kids whenever she wants?

Girl travelling with parent’s consent

One parent wanting to leave the country with the kids after separation can cause a lot of stress.  It is not uncommon for parents not to trust each other much after separation.  The parent who is not travelling may start wondering if the other parent intends to leave a never come back.  Fortunately, there are a number of Canadian and International Laws that are designed to stop parents from kidnapping the children by taking them to another country.  Most people have heard of the Hague Convention, which assists in getting court orders to bring the children back.  Note that not all countries have signed the Hague Convention, so if you are really worried, you may want to check out whether the destination country has signed on to that convention or not.  You can check to see if that country has signed the Hague Convention here: .  Those international laws require the parent travelling with the kids to have a letter from the non-travelling parent that says the non travelling parent agrees with the trip (and the kids are not being taken away from the non-travelling parent.)  Custom officials are supposed to ask to see that letter whenever children are non travelling with both parents.

If a parent wants a "blanket travel letter" that allows international travel at any time, that can certainly cause concern about what that parent's intentions may be.   It is understandable that one parent may want to know when the other parent is taking the children out of the country, and knowing where they are going to make sure they are safe.  Getting a travel letter every time, means asking the other parent every time.  That can be inconvenient and uncomfortable.  That is the reason why a parent sometimes asks for a letter allowing them to travel with the children at anywhere at any time.  That request can make the other parent also uncomfortable. The easiest way to avoid arguments may be to refer the other parents to what the Government of Canada says is needed to cross the boarder. This webpage has the letter that the Government of Canada recommends that everyone use when traveling with children: There is even a letter that you can fill out on-line and print out. That letter requires the itinerary of the trip and does not permit a “blanket letter" - especially if you use the PDF version. 

Parents should not be unreasonable about refusing consent for children to travel with the parent.  Most judges think that travel, and experiencing the world, is usually good for kids.  Obviously, there may be exceptions for missing lots of school or going to dangerous places.   However, always saying "no" is not a good idea.  The parent who wants to travel can go to family court and get a court order that allows him or her to travel with the chidden without the other parent's consent.  Then that parent only has to show that court order at the airport or customs office.


There can be a lot more that plays into custody and parenting problems such as this one.  Often these travel problems are only a symptom that there is a lot more that is wrong. To find out more about how to protect your children and yourself in custody, access and parenting issues, you should speak to a good family lawyer, like Certified Specialist, John Schuman. (Contact him using the form below or the number above.)  You may also want to get a copy of this $20 easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law,  because it covers many more custody and access issues (as well as child support and other family law issues) and also explains how some people get into family law trouble, as well as tips to success in your child custody/access case.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on Kindle

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© John P. Schuman 2014