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Do I need my ex’s permission to take my children on vacation outside of Canada?

Posted on June 19, 2019

Divorce can create challenging situations, not only at the time of separation but also in the years ahead. Conditions can become even more complicated when the divorce involves children.

Regardless of your divorce arrangement, you could be asked to prove that you’re allowed to take your children out of Canada if:

    You’re travelling without their other parent; or

    You’re their only parent

If you and your ex-spouse have agreed to child custody, there may be further steps you need to take before you can take them out of Canada. Every divorce and arrangement is different.

Here’s what you need to know to legally take your child on vacation and help to avoid any issues at entry or exit at the border.

Check your custody agreement

At the time of your divorce, you and your ex may have agreed on custodial rights. If you share custody, you each have a right to oppose significant decisions, such as exiting the country.

Check your agreement, it may expressly oppose international travel unless both parents provide consent to the arrangement.  Or, you may need to get the other parent’s advance written permission. You may also need to give the other parent information about your travel information, such as your flight details and contact numbers.  There may also be a stipulated notice period.

Take your separation agreement or court order with you

Even if you have sole custody, you may still be required to show that you have the permission of your ex-spouse to travel with your child. You may have a separation agreement or court order that states you don’t need your ex’s permission. It’s essential to take a copy of those documents with you on your trip to prove you don’t require your ex’s approval.

Woman with child at airport

Get a travel consent letter from your ex

The consent letter states that the children have permission to travel abroad from any parent or guardian who is not accompanying them on the trip.   This letter is typically notarized by a lawyer who attests to the fact that the person who is giving the consent is the person signing the letter.

The Canadian Government says while the consent letter is not mandatory, it may be requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving a foreign country, airline agents or Canadian officials when leaving or returning. Failure to produce the consent letter may result in delays or refusal to enter or exit a country.

It’s recommended that even a parent, even ones with sole custody, get a consent letter from the other parent. Sample consent letters can be found here.

Get professional advice

If you’re in the middle of creating a separation agreement or need a court order, it’s essential to get help from a qualified family law lawyer.

We have family lawyers who are knowledgeable and experienced with drafting the necessary documents that allow you to travel outside of Canada with your children legally.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation.


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