International Long Distance Visitation Schedules and Custody Agreements
Moving away from your child (or moving your child away from a parent) is a hard decision. When a child has two good and loving parents, it is in the child’s best interest to have frequent contact with both of them. Even if you don’t personally care for your ex, he or she is still an important part of your child’s life and your child should have the opportunity to have a relationship with him or her. Distance can complicate this relationship but it doesn’t have to end it.
Regardless of the reasons for parental relocation, the child should be allowed to spend adequate amounts of time with the other parent. School age children typically see their distanced parent during school breaks and vacations. They might not see their other parent as frequently but they do spend extended periods of time with him or her.
Long distance custody agreements and out of state visitation are fairly common in the United States. Thousands of children board flights or are transported by car each summer to spend time with their other parents. However, when a parent moves out of the country, this tends to complicate matters and can turn into a logistical nightmare.
Allowing your child to leave the country to visit the other parent isn’t a decision to be made lightly. Some countries (technically) honor U.S. custody orders. However, once your child is out of the country with your ex, there is little you can do to stop the other parent from travelling to a country that disregards America custody orders, such as Japan. Government cooperation from countries that DO honor US custody orders might not be as simple as you would expect.
The level of trust you have for the other parent should determine whether or not you allow your child to leave the country to visit him or her. You should not feel obligated to agree to a long distance visitation schedule that requires your child to leave the country.
Preventing your child from leaving the country is a lot easier than dealing with INTERPOL or hiring a mercenary to retrieve your abducted child from a foreign country. If your child does not have a passport, he or she will not be permitted to travel outside of the U.S. Both parents must appear together in person to apply for their child’s passport. A good way to ensure your child remains in the country is to prohibit them from getting one.
If you do not feel comfortable with an international long distance visitation schedule, you can request that the other parent travel to your child (and/or remain in the States) if they want to visit your child. This eradicates the need to worry about international abduction (and the actual international travel) while still allowing your child to spend time with the other parent when he or she is available.
You can ensure you child maintains a close relationship with the other parent by allowing them to take advantage of the various methods of communication that are available. Even if a parent is overseas, they can still see their child every day via video chat if that is something they would like to do. If the additional expense of electronic communication is a deterring factor, you can ask the parent that moves away to provide the necessary service and equipment. A good parent will attempt to help foster parental bonds between their child and the other parent. Distance does not have to create a strain on a parental relationship unless you allow it to.