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Taking children out of the country without father's permision

step2be2010's picture

I've got a question and I'm hoping someone has encountered this situation before.

Here's the background. Every other year FH and BM switch spring break with kids. Last year BM took SS 15 and SD 13 on a cruise. Therefore, it should be our year to have the kids for spring break. 2 weeks ago, SD came over and told her dad that they were going on a cruise for spring break and that her mom already booked it. FH had heard nothing previous about a cruise and we were planning on taking the kids out west to go skiing. FH told SD that we were making plans for spring break and that they had gone on a cruise last year over spring break. Subject was dropped. Several nights later after SD went back to BM. FH receives phone call where BM declares that she's taking the kids and that's that. FH is furious that she can just demand and declare without any consideration. He sends her an email stating that the adult thing to do would of been to discuss with him prior to telling the kids and that they could of worked something out. Due to her lack of communication and responsibility (she's pulled several other's an ongoing battle) he would not be giving her permission to take the kids out of the county. Today, he gets an email stating "I just wanted to let you know that we will be gone with the kids from when spring break starts to when it resumes. Trip will be awesome and rare experience and kids are excited because they are able to bring friends etc.

So my question is~can she legally take the kids without his permission? There's a constant battles about time, divorce decree is very vague. It was our thanksgiving this year and she called and said that the kids would just meet us at FH's mom's house at dinner and then after dinner could leave so they could have dessert with her...She took the kids to Arizona last year at thanksgiving for a week and told us a few weeks prior to leaving. Christmas is the same battle every year. Basically she has the kids whenever she wants and we are suppose to sit home and wait for them. We make plans and arrangements and at the last minute she changes her mind. I'm so frustrated with it and so is FH.

Pretty sure he wouldn't stop kids from going but wants them and her to understand that you can't just decided your going to do something without talking to others and that you have to play fair.

B's picture

BM in our situation used to believe that she could just make any and all decisions and DH be damned. We hadn't had SD for Christmas for a few years and finally per the DD were to have her for Christmas Day. A week and a half before she sends DH an email stating that she was taking SD out of state to spend Christmas at her grandmothers and would discuss making up the lost time with him when they returned. We replied that we didn't agree with losing Christmas and that make up time would not be acceptable. It went back and forth until we decided to go to court. We wrote up paperwork and went to Pro Se court and presented our case that the point was not make up time, but that it was about Christmas and not wanting to not have her for the holiday again just because the BM was being difficult. We were granted a restraining order saying she couldn't take SD out of the state and had to show up in court the day before Christmas Eve. Of course, SD was told that she couldn't go to her great grandma's for Christmas because Daddy wouldn't let her go... but we didn't care. In court the judge ruled that while the BM was wrong in making unilateral decisions without consulting the BD, there were plans made. It was ordered that SD would spend Christmas Eve with us, and then Christmas Day with the BM.

Long story short, you can try going to court and getting an order that prevents her from taking the SKids out of the state/country. Good Luck!

Sasha's picture

If there is a court order for visitation and it is written that neither parent can take the children out of the country without the others' permission, then no, she cannot do so. Additionally, if she is taking the kids on your DH's court-ordered visitation time he needs to go to the court to have his time enforced. Nip it in the bud NOW.

smurfy1smile's picture

Do the kids have passports? If not, if BF does not sign an affidavit stating its okay then BM cannot even get a passport. This statment must be notarized. You can also put an alert on the US Passport system to be alerted if BM applies for a passport for the kids. Go to and click on the children's and family section and they will lead you through it all. My BF had to do this for his BS because BM wanted to take him out of the country for 3 weeks last summer and BF refused to agree and sign the permission slip. The following is from the passport web site...

"Under the laws of the United States and many foreign countries, if there is no decree of custody prior to an abduction, both parents may be considered to have equal legal custody of their child. Even if both parents have custody of a child, removing a child from the United States against another parent's wishes can still be considered a crime in every state. In some cases an abducting parent may be charged with a Federal crime under the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA).Nevertheless, a custody decree can be helpful to prevent an international parental child abduction, or to recover your child if he/she is abducted.

Ask your attorney if you should obtain a decree of sole custody or a decree that prohibits the travel of your child without your permission or that of the court. If you have or would prefer to have a joint custody decree, you may want to make certain that it prohibits your child from traveling abroad without your permission or that of the court. "

Hope this helps you!

step2be2010's picture

The kids have passports supposedly from before. I did some research and he's going to put an alert on. We talked about everything last night and due to everything that's gone on and the issues that we know will arise come Christmas, FH is planning on going back to court to address everything. He's also having a little sitdown with the kids telling them that he's tired of them taking us for granted and only coming over for presents, food or because they need a ride somewhere. We live in town and BM lives 25-30 miles outside town. They'll come over for a few hours only to go to friends houses.

B~perhaps BM's are related. She doesn't give a crap what the papers say~but we are suppose to follow them to a T...

StepChicka's picture

That should put a dent in BM's plans but like someone just said. Your DH has plenty of time to get this settled through the court. Good luck.

anabihibik's picture

I think there may be state laws even if it isn't specified in the decree. In our situation, FH and BM were never married. FH is fighting to see his kids for more than 3 hours a week, and BM just informed him that she wants to take the kids on an airplane out of state for Christmas. Our issue isn't really the going out of state. It's the airplane, because she refuses to vaccinate them, and they were three months premature. She's pissed now cause she can't take them out of state without his permission, and she already bought the tickets. I kind of hope she does anyway. Then, we have a good shot at full custody with all the other stuff we have on her.

To every thing there is a season.

Sita Tara's picture

She has claimed that your FH can't have the kids more than 3 hours because of their fragile health, yet is taking them on a trip via plane at the holidays!!!! Oh- I would document his concerns via email to her, her response, and then sit back on it. This is a really good documentation that BM is using their "fragile health" excuse to keep FH from having overnights when obviously BM doesn't consider them susceptible.

"Om Tare Tutare Ture Mama Ayurpunye Jnana Putin Kuru Svaha"
~Sita Tara Mantra

disgusted's picture

It depends on the situation. When the army stationed our family in Germany I only had to give my ex husband 30 days notice in writting so he had the oppurtunity to dispute it if he so choose..He didn't fight it but thats another situation then yours entirley. Because my daughter was 14 I didn't have to have ex husbands permission to get her a passport..Under 14 the other parent has to provide signed consent for the children to get a pass port...So if the SK are under 14 all our DH has to do is refuse to sign consent for the children to get their passport and BM's hands are tied.

If the BM has sole physical and legal custody of the children and your DH has just visitation there is nothing he can do about her taking the kids out of the country.

In a perfect world their would be retroactive abortion capabilities.~ disgusted stepmom

Sita Tara's picture

Ours are vague on many things, but one things they do is revert to "schedule" B for holidays. BM is not exercising that correctly, and wants SD for Christmas and New Years Eve both this year because she had picked Thursday as her overnight. But we have FC so DH can tell her no. She may have another night the week of Christmas, or she may choose to have her New Years Eve and New Years Day like she should for the holiday anyway.

It is amazing when BMs (or BFs I guess but we don't see as much of that on here, do we) just announce their schedules. I have my sons every Christmas Eve because we have always had our family get together that night. But on my ex's years, my sons go back (either we drop them off or they pick them up whichever works best for them.) Then the boys come back to me on Christmas day for a few hours to open presents. On my years they stay here all night Christmas Eve, then go to their dads for Christmas day, sometimes staying the night if they want to. We are hugely flexible. BUT we all talk about it ahead of time and decide what works for everyone. My sons' SM tried to get me to give up the boys on our Christmas Eve family exchange (which we host at our house every year) and it was the one thing I wouldn't compromise on. I think sometimes it's hard for her with our shared parenting 50/50, b/c her kids' BFs never were that involved, and didn't always take visitation. So she doesn't know what it's like to not see your kids at all on a holiday or birthday. BUT...that agreement has been there for my ex and myself since the divorce ('99.)

This BM you are dealing with is just trying to exercise control over your DH's time. I would definitely contact a lawyer if you can afford it. Sometimes an official letter is more important that anything else. This cruise stuff is BMs way of making sure the kids will pick HER to be with by throwing money at them. Why can't BM take her own flippin' cruise? I went on a few vacations by myself the five years I was single. DH and I don't always take my sons with us out of town. We just went to his parents 6 hours away for the Thanksgiving weekend. His parents were up last weekend so my sons just saw them. So we left it up to my sons because it was their dad's weekend.

Ugh. Why can't people just collaborate????? I would definitely tell BM that her trying to interfere with his holiday is a violation that will end her up in court. And if she laughs that off and takes them I would make sure to follow it up with a letter from your lawyer.

"Om Tare Tutare Ture Mama Ayurpunye Jnana Putin Kuru Svaha"
~Sita Tara Mantra

Best interest mom's picture

Please help... I have three daughters. Ages 3, 5, 8. My soon to be ex and I have been seperated for about a year. We do not have a court ordered custody order but I want to take the girls to Germany with my boyfriend and his family to live. He has a good job that was offered to him on the base over there and a good chance that I would be able to get a good job in the medical field over there. And the girls would be given a chance to go to school for free and live a good life over there. We would also have a place to live for free. Background is dad is a major alcoholic, I feel fear for the welfare and safety for my girls when they have been in his care. Example...He passes out drunk with my 8 year old left to fend for the little ones and cook dinner on the grill unattended. ( she went to school stating this to her special education teachers. She has ADHD and has a IEP and is considered to be "disabled") He also supposibly lives with a river in his back yard and I fear for them drowning due to his lack of supervision and Cooking and unattended cig's, etc. He does not take them to school when he has them in his care. At times when I let him have visitation with them he did not have food for them nor gas to get them to school, so one many occassions I have given him food and money so that he could have time with the girls. He refuses to provide me with an address. So because of my fears for the girls I have kept the girls from him, He has called my parents house harassing my family. I also have about 10-12 years worth of domestic disturbances reports from about three different police departments. Also medical documentation of injuries due to his neglegence and violence. I sincerely fear for my life and my daughters safety. He has threatened me and my boyfriend and family. Please tell me what I should do. All I wanna do is live a normal life again without the fear. I did apply for passports for my daughters and am waiting for them to come. I did have a notary sign affidavits due to the fact that I have no physical address of dad and have asked family and any other sources about his whereabouts. No luck. What do I do? I am thinking about going to Germany and filing for custody there. What do you think would be the most safe way about going about relocating without going to jail? And if that would be the outcome, how many years would I be facing and would it be so many years for each child?


Best Interest Mom

StepChicka's picture

You need to file. It sounds like you have a good case for primary custody. Not so sure about the court allowing you to leave the country. I hate to say it, but uprooting your children and leaving with a man that you've dated less than a year doesn't make you look too good. Sorry

Suggestion is:
1)File for sole custody and get divorced. If XH doesn't fight it you'll win, if he fights it then you likely get primary custody. It sounds like your girls are more in your care.
2)If your boyfriend is right for you and your girls get married. (mind you this SHOULD take YEARS)Please refer to all these posts of issues we all deal with.
3)You will now be married to a service man and have a fighting arguement along with all the other things. Then file a motion to the court to move out of the country.

Please, dont rush things. I know you're probably in love with this guy but it's way too soon for you to be acting on it.

Good luck dear.

buttercup123's picture

Your lawyer can get an emergency court order. It depends on their custody agreement if she can take them or not. If it says that they need to consult each other then a she is in breech of contract and you get a court order and demand she pays your legal bills.

Snowbunny's picture