Plan for a stress-free holiday – Tips for separating parents

December 6, 2016

By: Ashley Iyathurai, Law Office of Jeff Jiehui Li

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. You should contact Jeff J. Li or a family lawyer if you are concerned about your family law issues.

With the upcoming holidays, many parents will be finalizing their travel plans. If you are planning on travelling with your child(ren) alone, it is a good idea to carry a travel consent letter with you. While this isn’t required, it can make your travel experience much smoother.

Often times, if you are travelling with your child(ren), and the other parent is not present, you may be asked to provide a consent letter. A consent letter is a document, signed by the non-travelling parent, that confirms that you have permission to travel with your child(ren). As a starting point, you may wish to consult the Government of Canada website which has a sample consent letter that parents can review.
It is also important to go over any court orders that are in effect to see if there are any relevant terms relating to travel. It is important that you understand any applicable restrictions or obligations well in advance of your intended travel, so that you are not violating a court order.

Separating parents should also discuss things like:
1. Who will apply for or renew the child’s passport?
2. Will both parents be required to sign the child’s passport application or renewal?
3. Who will keep the child’s passport?
4. How much notice will the travelling parent give the other parent before travelling?
5. Do you need the other parent’s consent for all travel, or only travel outside the country?
6. How will the non-travelling parent contact the other parent or the child?

It is best to deal with these types of issues well in advance, and incorporate these terms into your separation agreement or divorce order, so that parents are not left scrambling to sort these issues out while finalizing their holiday plans.

Another issue that often comes up during the holidays is time. During a separation, parents may not always be thinking ahead to future holiday plans. However, it is important to consider how you and your ex will share time with the children during future holidays. Who will have the children on Christmas Eve? Where will the children spend Christmas Day? Are there certain family traditions that are important to you that you want to continue post-separation?

If you are unable to reach an agreement with your ex about holiday access, you may find that you need to resort to court to get an order setting out access time. In making an access order, the court will be guided by what is in the child’s best interest.
Often times, however, it is preferable for both parties to negotiate their own access schedule. This allows both parents to craft a tailored solution that specifically deals with their family’s unique circumstances. Depending on the parenting relationship you have with your ex, you may want a structured access schedule, or, something more flexible.

At Jeff J. Li Professional Corporation, we help separating parents navigate these types of access issues, and provide parents with creative solutions that are client-focused.


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