If you’re a divorcing parent who will be sharing custody of your child with your co-parent, one thing you’ll need to agree on is how far each of you can travel with that child without having to get the other’s permission. You likely both want your child to be able to travel to visit family and friends and to have memorable vacations. However, it’s always crucial to do so within the terms of your agreement.
Traveling alone with your child for the first time can be a challenge when you’ve always had a co-parent to rely on. Flying with a child for the first time on your own can be especially challenging. Some parents, unfortunately, receive more scrutiny than others from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents and other authorities than others.
If one or more of these is the case, “pack your patience,” as they say, and plenty of documentation showing your relationship and documents showing that you have permission from the court to travel with your child:
- You have a biracial child who looks more like your co-parent.
- You have an adopted child of a different race or ethnicity than you.
- Your child has a different last name than you.
Questions about your relationship with your own child (which you’re probably used to from nosy strangers) have to be handled diplomatically if you want to be on your way and not end up detained at the airport. Remember that TSA and border agents are trained to be on the lookout for child traffickers. They’re just doing their job.
Bring plenty of documentation
It’s a good idea to have a folder of documentation in your carry-on bag that you can quickly pull out. This should include copies of:
- Your child’s birth certificate or adoption form (if applicable)
- Your “consent to travel” letter and/or your custody agreement
It can help to have plenty of photos on your phone of you and your child (and your co-parent) over the years. Authorities are allowed to ask your child questions, but they’re less likely to if you can provide plenty of proof that your child is yours.
If you and your co-parent are still working out your custody agreement and parenting plan, make sure you have the necessary permission and documentation before you take off for a long weekend or spring break. Having legal guidance can help ensure that you’re ready.