Legal Difficulties You May Face When Moving Your Child Overseas without the Other Parent's Knowledge

30 November 2015
 Categories: , Blog

If you have physical custody of a child, you may be tempted to go with him or her wherever you feel like moving. Unfortunately, you aren't allowed to take your child outside the country without the other parent's consent. Here are three legal hurdles you will face if you try such a move:

It May Be Difficult to Get a Passport for the Child

For you to leave the country, both you and the child (irrespective of his or her age) must get passports. If the child is below the age of 16, then he or she can't apply for the passport without the parents/guardians. The State Department needs both parents to give their consents.

If the other parent cannot be present, then you must show his or her consent. If you don't have the consent, then you must have a valid legal reason; for example, a court order showing you don't need the other parent's consent. In short, this means you can't sneak outside the country without the other parent's knowledge if the child doesn't have a passport yet.

It May Be a Violation of a Court Order

If a custody order exists for the child, then it's possible that one of the restrictions it places on either of you is not to move overseas without the other's knowledge. Therefore, even if the child has a passport, you still need the other parent to sign off on the move. If you violate such a condition, you will be held in contempt of the court. Contempt of court is a serious issue that may even result in your incarceration.

You May Be Accused of Parental Kidnapping

If the child has a passport, you still need the other parent's permission to move out of the country with your child. If you don't, then he or she may accuse you of parental kidnapping, which is a criminal offense also known as custodial interference. This may be a misdemeanor or felony depending on your state's laws. To prove parental kidnapping, the court will examine your legal standing, the existence of any custody orders, and your intention for smuggling the child outside the country. This is a serious crime that involves both state and federal law officers.

Don't assume that kidnapping has to involve the use of force; what matters is that you have limited the other parent's access to the child by getting out of the country. You may be accused of custodial interference even if the child wants to go with you. After all, your child may not know what is best for him or her.

Therefore, it's not wise to try to smuggle a child out of the country without involving the other parent. You will face legal ramifications even if you succeed. Contact a family law attorney through a website like for legal solutions if you have legitimate reasons for getting out of the country with your child.