I often have clients that ask, is it really necessary to get a travel consent letter? The short answer is yes. Unless you want to take the risk of having your beautifully planned trip ruined, then yes. It can be a small bothersome task to have a travel consent prepared and notarized. And, you will likely have to pay a fee to have the consent letter witnessed and notarized, but it’s a small price to pay to the alternative of not being able to go on your trip.
The travel consent letter is a recommendation not just by family lawyers, but by the Government of Canada. It is not just separated spouses that may need a travel consent letter. If a minor child is travelling without their custodial guardians, whether that is their grandparents or their soccer coach across the Canadian border, it will also be necessary to obtain and carry a travel consent letter.
What if you have sole custody of your children? Despite having sole or final decision making rights for your children, it is strongly recommended that the travel consent letter is signed both by parents with custodial rights and by parents with access rights to the children.
Do I have to sign a travel consent letter? No, but you will need to have a good reason for not signing, such as the trip being a real risk to the child. If you do not have such a compelling reason and you refuse to sign the letter, the travelling parent could apply for permission from the family court, which may result in more costs owed by you.
We live in a big complicated world and we cannot control what happens at our borders or at any other international borders. So, please add the travel consent letter on your to-do list before you leave for your vacation with your kids.
I wish you all safe travels!