How Safe is a Divorce “Travel Letter”?
Are you divorced or separated? The case of a Calgary mother having her daughter taken to Iran without her knowledge highlights concerns over intentional travel post-separation or divorce. The mother in that case did not agree for her child to travel outside of Canada, but unbeknownst to her, the child’s father had provided consent for his mother to travel outside of Canada, which apparently was enough for the airlines and for the foreign immigration authorities to allow the child to eventually find her way to Iran without the mother’s knowledge or consent.
While the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction does allow for international enforcement of domestic custody orders, enforcement is not certain, and many countries are not signatories to the convention. There are no clear laws or regulations regarding what is required for a parent to travel outside of Canada, regardless of how custody is dealt with in a Divorce. By convention, particularly for travel into the United States, or by air, a parent will often be asked for written authorization from the other parent for such travel, but even if they are notarized, the protection offered by such requirements may be illusory.
Further – even if traveling to a country which IS a party to the convention, there is no guarantee the parent or other relative will stay within that country and not take that child to a non-convention country. Care should be taken by a parent in agreeing to travel by the other parent after a divorce, or you could find yourself fighting an uphill battle in securing return of your child from a foreign country.
Be aware of this risk, and discuss and if necessary, have your lawyer investigate the status of a proposed destination under the convention. My general advice, if you have younger children (pre-teen) and your spouse has family in a non-convention country? Just say “no”.