I am “commercially influenced” by the sign of Halloween candy and think of the next big holiday season: Christmas!! While I have a personal opinion on how early Christmas wares are marketed, it cannot be the topic of discussion on a Family Lawyer’s website.
So, I write about traveling trips for the divorced or separated instead. Top three (3) considerations when traveling for the upcoming holidays and all year round:
LEGAL GUARDIANSHIP/LEGAL CUSTODY
This refers to your legal right to make decisions about how a child or children in your care are raised. This is not about your parenting arrangements or who has “physical custody” of a child or children.
In Alberta, the Divorce Act refers to decision making as “custody”; while the Family Law Act refers to decision making as “guardianship” hence the confusion. But both terms refer to your legal right to make decisions about how a child or children in your care are raised. When you consult with a lawyer and you notice the lawyer confusing these terms….please consult with another lawyer who knows the correct terminology.
The type of guardianship or custody you and the other parent have affects your ability to travel with the child or children in your care.
For example, if you have “joint guardianship” or “joint custody” then you will need the non-traveling parent’s consent to travel. I strongly recommend this be in writing, such as a travel letter, for international travel or if you are going through immigration or crossing through a border security check point.
Even if you have sole guardianship or sole custody, meaning you make all the decisions about the child or children in your care; the law may still require you to give notice of you travel plans to the other parent. This can be the case even if the other parent is “barely” involved.
There is no “magic” to writing a travel letter. Just include basic information like: the names of the child or children who are traveling with you; the names should match the spelling on their travel documents such as their passport; dates of travel (departure and return); and an acknowledgment that the non-traveling parent consents.
Be sure to have this document notarized by a Notary Public if you are traveling internationally, which in Alberta, is mostly likely a lawyer. Given how our world is now, I think travel letters will be needed for domestic travel in the future. In any event, a good habit to develop.
Sample of a travel letter can be found on the Immigration and Citizenship Canada website: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/children/consent-letter.
I can notarize and commission documents for a nominal fee. Just call (780) 761-1070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
COSTS OF TRAVEL
It is a good idea to decide if holiday travel will be a shared cost between parents. In over fifteen (15) years of practice, I have rarely seen parents share their own personal travel costs as a section 7 child support expense. But remember, even in divorce and separation, parents are still agreeing on how to raise their child or children. So have the discussion.
Then go and enjoy your holiday!! Build fond memories for your child or children…it increases their resiliency during divorce and separation.
Author: Ms. Ning Ramos, Barrister and Solicitor
Phone: (780) 761-1070