One of issues that comes up in some of my
divorces cases in Texas is international travel with children. There are times when divorcing
parents may wish to travel internationally with their children.
However, when there is not an amicable relationship with an ex-spouse may
this can be a contentious issue. This can be the non-traveling has concerns
that the other party may try to keep the child in a foreign country where
Texas custody Order may be very difficult.
United States Restrictions on International Travel
Much of the law regarding international travel with children after a divorce
is governed by United States Federal Law. Some ways that the United States
Government tries limit international abductions includes:
- Passport Applications - when applying for a passport for a child under
the age of 16, both parents must be present or a single parent must have
proof of sole custody.
- State Department's Children's Passport Issuance Alert Program notifies
a parent if a passport is requested in a child's name if that individual
has been enrolled in the program.
- Parents who are not traveling with their children must provide notarized
consent for their children to leave the country.
Texas Family International Restrictions – Risk of Abduction
As mentioned above international travel is governed by Federal Law. However,
under Federal Texas as well as other states have been given the authority to:
- A Texas Court can take possession of a passport as long as it deems necessary
to reduce the likelihood of the removal of a minor child from the United States.
- In such cases where a Texas Court takes possession of the passport, the
action to withhold the passport should be reported to the “Office
of Children’s Issues” to prevent unauthorized attempts to
If there is a risk of abduction a some of the additional safety precautions
a Texas Court may take under Texas Family Code Section 153.503 include:
- appoint a person other than the parent of the child who presents a risk
of abducting the child as the sole managing conservator of the child;
- require supervised visitation of the parent by a visitation until the court
finds under that supervised visitation is no longer necessary;
- Depending on the circumstances a parent might ask that it be required for
the traveling party to post a ne exeat bond prior to any international
travel. The bond would be posted for an amount that would be contemplated
to cover the cost of pursuing an abduction case across international borders.
Intentional Abduction Risk Factors
When Considering if there is a risk of an international abductions the
factors a Texas Court will look at under Texas Family Code 153.502 include
has a parent:
- Taken, enticed away, kept, withheld, or concealed a child in violation
of another person’s right of possession of or access to the child,
unless the parent presents evidence that the parent believed in good faith
that the parent’s conduct was necessary to avoid imminent harm to
- Previously threatened to take, entice away, keep, withhold, or conceal
a child in violation of another person’s right of possession of
or access to the child;
- lacks financial reason to stay in the United States, including evidence
that the parent is financially independent, is able to work outside of
the United States, or is unemployed;
- has recently engaged in planning activities that could facilitate the removal
of the child from the United States
Texas Family International Restrictions – No Risk of Abduction
When there is not a risk of abduction the court may require only language
that applies to the application and possession of a child’s passports.
Those provisions include:
- Which parent is authorized to apply for a passport for the child.
- If a party applies for a passport for the child, that party is ORDERED
to notify the other conservator of that fact no later than 5 days after
- Which parent has the right to maintain possession of the passports and
the requirements for delivery of the passport to the other parent.
- Written notice to the other parent regarding international travel and what
that written notice should include such as date, time, and location of
the child’s departure from the United States.
If a parent violates these provisions of that have been Ordered they then
the other parent could bring a
Petition to Enforce by Contempt. In such situation if the court could Order monitory damages, reimbursement
costs including attorney’s fees, or possible jail time.
If an ex-spouse has plans for international travel, it may be prudent for
you to discuss the trip with a
Texas Family Law Attorney. A
Texas Family Law Attorney who is familiar with
Texas family law may be able to help you develop a plan that protects your children.
If you want to know more about what you can do,
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children
and families. If you have questions regarding
divorce, it's important to speak with one of our
Houston, TX Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.
divorce lawyers in Houston TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and
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