How To Travel or Live Abroad With Kids When Your Ex Says NO!

Is your ex refusing to sign a child travel consent form? Wondering how you can move abroad without his or her consent? Here’s how I obtained a court order giving me permission to do both despite my ex-husband fighting me tooth and nail. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done under special circumstances.

Travelling With Children When The Other Parent Is Not Present

I hope my transparency will inspire and empower other single parents and blended families not to fear un-cooperative ex-spouses whose only motivation is revenge, punishing you and making your life miserable. 

To all you single parents or blended families, if you’re reading this and hoping to get step-by-step directions on how you can travel internationally or move abroad without the father’s or mother’s permission, I want to make sure you understand a couple of things.

Always put your children first. 

I don’t advocate, endorse or encourage travelling internationally or moving abroad without the other parent’s consent. Always try to find some middle ground and come to an amicable agreement first, which you should get in writing. 

Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. 

I was able to get permission to travel internationally with my children and later live abroad because of what occurred over the course of several years leading up to my 3 court hearings. Those years were some of the most stressful times of my life. I was mentally harassed and bullied for years by my ex, not just for travel but for mundane everyday things. 

  • Just because you take your ex to court does not guarantee you will win.
  • In every scenario, there’s always a winner and a loser. The loser might be you. 

Why You Need A Child Travel Consent Form

If you travel internationally with a child under 16 and the other parent is not present, you should always be prepared to show proof of permission in the form of a letter from the other parent (and supporting documents.) Without written permission, you run the risk of getting denied entry into that other country.

These rules are mainly to prevent problems with child custody disputes, kidnapping, and illegal trafficking of children.

But what do you do if the other parent refuses to write you a letter permitting you to travel abroad with your children?  

This is the long and windy road I took to obtain a court order granting me permission to travel internationally with my children and later move abroad without needing permission from my ex-husband. 

Our Routine Flight To Montreal

In 2010, I boarded a plane from San Francisco, California and flew to Montreal like I did almost every year. This is where my family lives. 

I was with two of my three children; my daughter and son, who were 3 and 12 years old, respectively. My third and eldest child was with my husband transporting what was left of our belongings in a Uhaul truck across the country to a self-storage unit. 

They would meet up with us in Montreal later, where we would live for an undetermined amount of time. 

“Papers Please!” said the grumpy looking customs officer.

We landed at the Montreal airport, exited the plane and promptly walked to the immigration and customs area to wait in line.

When it was our turn, the customs agent took our passports, looked at us, then back down at our passports and furrowed his eyebrows as if he were straining to read our names. 

Customs officer: “Are these your children?”

Me: Yes, they are!

I was flying solo with two children, neither of whom share my last name, and no father in sight.

Travelling is more complicated for us

It’s complicated travelling with my children because we are a blended family with three last names.

  1. Me: My last name is André, it’s my maiden name and the name I have listed on all my documents.
  2. Husband and daughter: My youngest daughter and husband have the same last name.
  3. Two sons: My two sons are from a previous marriage and they have my ex-husband’s last name. To make matters worse, one of my sons has my maiden name “Andre” as his first name.

I made this trip many times, so I was prepared to show the customs agent all the necessary documents a parent needs when flying alone with minor children. 75% of the time, no one ever asks for proof, but today was one of those rare occasions.

My travel consent documents included the following: 

Travel documents for my daughter:

  1. A handwritten letter of consent from my husband Blake, permitting me to travel with our daughter.  (It’s recommended you get this notarized but mine was not)
    It says something like: “I acknowledge that my son/daughter is travelling outside the country with [the name of the adult] with my permission.”
  2. My daughter’s birth certificate, which showed Blake and I were her parents. (remember, I use my maiden name, different than my daughter and husband).
  3. A photocopy of Blake’s Passport for good measure.

Travel documents for my son:

I didn’t have a written letter of consent from my ex-husband to travel internationally with my son because my ex refused to give me permission to travel to Canada to see my family. I couldn’t even take my boys on short weekend getaways without him threatening to call the police on me.

Instead, I had two Court orders. 

  1. The first court order allowed me to travel internationally anywhere in the world with either of my sons (who were from a previous marriage). 
  2. The second court order gave me the authority to live in Canada or the east coast USA. 

I obtained these two court orders at two separate times. Both allowed me to bypass my ex altogether whenever I wanted to travel with my son’s. I’ll explain why and how I got my court orders in a moment.

“Welcome Back to Canada,” said the smiling customs agent.

The border police stamped our passports, and off we went to Mamie’s house. 

pintrest image about how to travel abroad with children when your ex says no!

How I got a court order permitting my children to travel internationally with me without my ex’s permission

First, I need to give you a little back story, so bear with me. 

When Blake and I got together, we both agreed we didn’t want to get remarried, but that changed after our daughter was born. 

Neither of us wanted a big wedding, so I thought why not elope to Europe with all three children. A kind of family elopement followed by a family honeymoon. The plan was to elope to Scotland and honeymoon in Paris. 

If you’re interested, here’s how you can elope and get married in Scotland too

photo of the family right after we married in Edinburgh at the registrars office

Nothing is ever easy with a vengeful ex.

Months before Blake and I were scheduled to elope to Scotland with the kids, I called my ex-husband to let him know about our plans and ask him to write us a letter giving me permission to take the boys out of the country. 

Blake and I thought for sure my ex would be on board. 

Instead, he refused to give me permission to take the boys and gave us no explanation as to why.

No amount of pleading, begging or bribing could persuade my ex into agreeing to write this simple letter. That’s all it really was, after all, a single sheet of paper with his name and a sentence or two statings, “I, so and so, give Annie permission to travel to Europe” during these dates with our two sons.  

To say that Blake and I were flabbergasted and disappointed by my ex’s refusal to cooperate is an understatement. 

In 2007, I took my ex to court! And I won!

After a few weeks of ranting, I didn’t have a lot of choices.

I could…

  1. Take the boys to Europe without written permission and risk getting turned away. 
  2. Elope with Blake, take our daughter but leave the boys behind.  
  3. Take my ex-husband to court and fight it out.  

The obvious choice was to take my ex to court. 

Long story short, my ex tried to make a case for why I shouldn’t be allowed to take my boys to Europe to attend my marriage.

I made my case about why I should be able to take them.

It was pretty much a slam dunk for me. Judges usually let parents travel with children unless the trip presents some sort of danger- such as a war zone. I also think that judges look at travel as beneficial to children unless there is proof that they should not travel with the other parent.

Since we were only travelling to Europe to get married, the judge granted us permission to take them with us, and to this day, I still have no idea why my ex refused to sign a letter of consent for the boys to travel with us. 

The judge not only granted me permission to take the boys abroad for 30 days; he gave me a court order to travel anywhere in the US, Canada and internationally without ever having to ask for written permission from my ex again.

I just needed to carry the court order with me when I travelled and let my ex know our travel dates. 

By refusing to give me a letter of consent and forcing me to take him to court, my ex unwittingly made my life a whole lot easier—no more fighting with my ex. 

It was the biggest relief of my life. 

It was this first COURT ORDER I carried with me whenever I travelled with my sons. That little piece of paper gave me so much peace of mind. 

How to get a court order for a child’s passport

One last thing about my court order.

I mentioned to the judge that I needed my ex’s signature to renew our son’s passports and that I had brought the passport application and a notary with me that day. Normally, you need two signatures to renew a child’s passport.

To my surprise, the judge added an extra clause allowing me to renew all future passports for my sons with only one signature. I didn’t even know this was possible. 

TIP: how to get a child passport with one parent absent

If you have sole custody of your child or a court order like the one I described above, these documents are usually all you’ll need when applying for a new passport or renewing your child’s passport. 

If you don’t have either of these documents, some countries have special forms for obtaining a minor child’s passport with one parent absent.

  • For example, in the US, form ds3503 is a consent form the absent parent must sign and notarize to give to the parent applying, who then submits this form with the minor child’s application. This is assuming your ex is cooperative.
  • The US also has form dr5525, which is for special circumstances such as when the other parent can’t be found, is in jail, etc. However, you must provide all supporting documents. 

How I got permission to live abroad

For anyone new to my blog, I moved to France in October of 2011 and obtained a court order to do so. This was a two-prong process that wasn’t planned. 

You might be interested in reading: 50 Crazy Interesting Facts About France That’ll Blow Your Mind

Nailed it, matching shirt day

Fast forward a few years after I received my first court order from the courts to travel with my boys internationally.

Blake and I were still living in Silicon Valley, and we were both laid off from our jobs and unemployed for an extended period of time.

Blake and I had been saving for years, and we each had severance packages, but our cash was dwindling fast.  If you’re familiar with Silicon Valley, you know that it’s extremely expensive to live there.

Blake and I made the bold decision to cut our losses and move to the east coast, where the cost of living was lower and to be closer to both of our families.

Blake’s family was on the east coast in the US, and my family was in Quebec, Canada. 

But first, we had to get my ex’s permission again.

As expected, my ex DID NOT want to grant us permission, and I understand why, but our backs were up against the wall due to financial reasons, and I felt we had a strong case. 

First, we went to court to get permission to move across the country. 

Once again, the judge heard each of our arguments:

I presented my case and the math in a worst-case scenario. We could last 5 times longer on the east coast with no jobs than if we stayed put in Silicon valley. At that point and time in California, people were losing their homes, leaving the state or lining up to become baristas after being a VP of some high tech company. It was a recession with far-reaching effects. 

My ex-husband presented his case. One of his arguments was that he couldn’t go to Canada because he couldn’t obtain a passport. His passport was revoked because he was several years behind on his child support. Obviously, not being able to get a passport because your behind on child support didn’t make a very good impression on the judge, or at least I like to think so. 

In the end, the judge granted us permission to move to the east coast either in the US or to Canada.

One year later: We never intended to move to France, but shit happens.

One year after leaving California, we still had a hard time finding jobs. We were living at my aunt’s house in Montreal while looking for jobs. It was getting really depressing, and I thought this could go on for another year.

That’s when I thought, let’s stop looking for jobs, wait out the bad economy and take a Family gap year abroad.  We would return and look for jobs once the economy recovered. 

There was only one problem. I had to ask for my ex’s permission AGAIN! 

We went to court for the third time to get permission to move to France.

The first COURT ORDER I obtained only granted permission to travel with my boys as a tourist. This meant I could stay in Europe as a tourist with my husband and children for 90 days because that’s how long a tourist visa lasts in most of the EU and Schengen Area.

Anything longer than 90 days required a “LONG STAY VISA,” which gave us the right to send our kids to school in France and legally live in France for one full year abroad. For that, I needed my ex’s signature or court order. 

I called my ex and asked him if he would be ok with the boys spending a year in France where they would attend French public schools.

To my surprise, he was kind of ok with the idea “at first.” Then he found out my husband, and I were going with the boys, and just like that, he wasn’t ok with it anymore. Go figure. 

I made every effort to come up with a mutually beneficial agreement, including flying the boys out to him during the holidays at my expense, but my ex shot them all down. 

I could have given up, but I decided to let the courts decide if I should have the right to take our boys to France for one year or not. 

I included a detailed letter with my court documents stating why I wanted to take the boys to live in France and how it benefited them. I also wrote a bit about how little my ex was involved in my boy’s life since they were born, how he made it difficult to do the simplest of things. 

There was no format for this letter; I just winged it and wrote from the heart.

The judge granted us our third court order, which allowed us to take the boys to live in France. 

Celebrating Andre Birthday

My advice if you want to take your children to live abroad or travel internationally.

1) Keep a journal and write it all down.

I highly advise you to keep a journal and write down EVERYTHING. Things get murky after the fact. This journal will be invaluable if you need to take your child’s father or mother to court.

 Some of the things I put in my journal were: 

  • Every time my ex didn’t pick up my children on his scheduled visitation dates. For me, this was 90 percent of the time. 
  • Calculation and percentage of the time my ex actually saw our children.
  • Dates and recordings of threatening or intimidating phone calls.
  • A brief description of any incident where the other parent was unreasonable or bullying. This happened every time I wanted to take the boys anywhere on vacation, even to Canada to see my family. 
  • Any time the boys told me strange stories of something that happened at their father’s house. 

2) Going to court should be the last resort. 

Before you attempt to get a court order to travel internationally with your kids or move abroad, I strongly advise you to speak with your ex first and come to an agreement in writing. Not only is it less expensive, but it’s also more amicable. If that doesn’t work, and you feel it’s in the child’s best interest, then maybe taking the other parent to court is your only recourse. 

My ex didn’t want to make any concessions, he didn’t want to cooperate, and in the end, he lost total control over me. 

Keeping my journal helped me present an organized case and helped me remember all the facts.  

3) Do what’s in the best interest of your child(ren).

Is the other parent a total jerk to you, bullying you or intimidating you? Well, that’s probably not a good enough reason for a judge to grant you permission to take your children and move to another country.

Is the other parent a bad parent? If so, how, and can you prove it? Just because the other parent lets the kids stay up till midnight, eating ice cream is not a good enough reason to call them a bad parent. Just because the other parent is an asshole to you is not a good enough reason either.

Even if you’re sure it’s in the best interest to move abroad with your children, does it outweigh the benefit of staying put so the children can be near the other parent? 

These are all things I had to prove in court, which I did with supporting documents and proof. 

boys in Monterey

How to stop your ex from taking the kids and moving abroad.

Are you a non-custodial parent trying to stop your ex from moving out of the country with your children without your permission?

Here’s is my advice; don’t do what my ex did. All of these things will work in your favour should your ex ever try to take you to court. 

1) See your children regularly:

Had my ex been more present in our son’s lives, had he been a father figure, he might have had more leverage in our court hearings, but that wasn’t the case.

My ex rarely saw our sons. After the divorce, I took care of 100 percent of their daily needs, night and day every day, almost 365 days of the year. 

I even ended up paying my ex and another time his sister to watch my boys for a weekend so that I could get a break. I couldn’t afford to hire a proper baby sitter at the time.  I was a single mom, working all day, taking care of two small boys receiving no child support. 

Moving across the country or to the other side of the planet wasn’t going to really change the amount of time my ex spent with his children, and I think this is one of the many reasons I won all my court cases against my ex. 

2) Don’t miss your scheduled visitation dates with your children:

This goes back to my first point, if you’re supposed to take your children every other weekend, then do it and plan your life accordingly. It not only shows you’re a responsible parent, but it’s what’s best for the children. 

My Ex had scheduled times when he was supposed to take our boys, but he rarely exercised that right. This does not look good in court or to your children. 

3) Don’t endanger your children:

Your children’s safety, both physical and mental, are extremely important. 

Endangering your child, either through neglect or trauma, isn’t going to work in your favour. 

On one occasion, my ex was supposed to take one of my sons for 30 days in the summer. I can’t remember why he didn’t take both. In any case, I was thrilled to get the break. It was the first time he took either of the boys for an extended period of time. 

That excitement was short-lived when his then-girlfriend called me after 14 days to come and pick my son, who said my ex was getting drunk nightly, and she didn’t think he could take care of our son. 

4) Support your children financially: 

Supporting your children is extremely important. The money you pay for support to your ex helps support your children. 

My ex went eight years without paying me a dime of child support while receiving wages from working under the table. Needless to say, this also doesn’t bode well in a courtroom. Plus, the court system will eventually catch up with you, and you’ll have to pay back child support with interest, which may get deducted automatically from all future paychecks. 

5) Be a good parent and put your children’s needs first:

I had to think long and hard about moving abroad with the boys.  Was it really better for them? Would they benefit from it? I also had to look at the negatives. 

The answer to these questions will be unique to you and your situation. 

In my situation, I tried to do everything by the book. The last thing I wanted was to give my ex any ammunition to use against me. I always made every effort to follow our court order.  

One of my biggest arguments for moving abroad was the bad economy and educational opportunity. Plus, my husband and I would be home 100 percent for the boys as opposed to both parents working until 6 or 7 pm every night worked in our favour and the boy’s favour.  

6) Don’t take out your anger and frustration on your ex.

My ex did a lot of shady things as well as things to spite me—all of which I documented and used in court against him.

Do yourself a favour and take the high road. 

The Court Process: A brief explanation of the process

For my first court appearance, I was living in California, and I appeared in person. 

For my second court hearing, I was living in Montreal. I didn’t have to fly back to California on my court date.  My lawyer was present in California on my behalf. I dialled into the courthouse and made my case, and so did my ex. The whole thing lasted 20 minutes at most, and then the judge made his ruling granting me permission to LIVE in France for not one but TWO years with the boys.

I hired a family law lawyer, but you may be able to file your own documents. 

Maybe you live in a country where you can file your own documents. Your local courts may even offer free legal advice or service to help you fill out the court documents. 

Reading Books In Berlin: Prenzlauer_Berg
The Kids Do A Lot Of Reading and Learning On The Road

You Don’t Have To Agree With Me

I realize some may disagree with the idea of getting a court order to travel internationally with children or to move abroad with the kids by obtaining a court order. You’re entitled to your opinions.

I sleep just fine at night, knowing I did what was in the best interest of my children. 

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Annie André

About the author 

I’m A Bilingual North American With Thai And French Canadian Roots Who's Been Living In The South Of France For Over 10 Years. I Love Writing Weird, Wonderful, Interesting, Forgotten, And Fascinating Articles For Intellectually Curious People Amazed By France, French Culture, And World Travel.


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  1. I have been through an almost identical situation. I am from the UK and have a daughter from a previous partner. I moved on and met my now husband- we are both well educated and had good jobs but ends were just not meeting( and we had no debt-the UK system is messed up) what with the extortionate child care costs I was paying, swimming lessons, you know how it is- it all adds up- ex partner was paying the minimum for his daughter and only did exactly what he had to do. Just enough-no more, no less. I even invited him around to make a child care plan where I offered him extra access….didnt take me up on it.

    It got to a point where my other half (now husband) wanted to know exactly how we were going to move on with our lives…you know….buy a bigger house, have more children etc….It gets very frustrating when you’ve spent all of your youth studying to get a good job then obstacles get in the way.Anyway, as luck should have it we were offered jobs in the middle east (tax free heaven) at a prestigious private school.

    – we had to ask the ex for permission to leave the country
    – he said no
    -then it had to go to court

    the most stressful thing i’ve ever had to do!

    – long story short. We won. As we now have a 5 bedroom house which is paid for by the school we work at, swimming pool, free private school tuition for my daughter and son… you know- it’s a real dream package.

    …. My end of the bargain… I have to travel back to the UK during the summer holidays and xmas and skype him 3 times a week… however interestingly enough the Dad is also obliged to visit her twice a year also as he will not be paying CSA so he is supposed to use that money to fly over.

    Even though I stick to my side of the court order, it becomes increasingly difficult as my ex’s partner confuses my daughter. Her recent trick is telling her that she is her real mother. It’s very upsetting all round but at least I know we get to go back to our safe place out of the UK.

    …… I recently received a text saying he wont be travelling for a second visit this year ( no reason, nothing)…. and no offer of maintenance money either- but when I was pregnant he pressured me into flying back to the UK still and was sending me aggressive messages not longer after I had given birth.

    Positives of it all are- my daughter lives an exciting life abroad and gets to travel frequently and attends a private school instead of some grotty UK state school ( the area we lived previously wasn’t the best) She is away from the negativity her dad would bring into my family home – as is the son I have with my husband.

    Negatives – the Dad is often emotionally abusive to me- especially when we are back in the UK , and his partner monitors my online activity which i find intrusive-but hey…out of my hands.

    I don’t think her dad will ever forgive me for moving on- and being in a position to give our daughter the world. But I would never have forgiven myself if I hadn’t have had the courage to fight it. Our quality of life is just so significantly better!

    My daughter will know whats right and what isn’t when she is older. All I know now is that she is happy and that’s what counts.

    1. Wow, this sounds like a very similar situation. It sounds like you had an amazing opportunity to make your life better and your child’s life better. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I want to divorce my husband but he refuse and I want to get legal custody of both of my children ( 1 year old and 4 years old -( autistic ) ) He is irresponsible and rarely do his part most of the time. Currently im in my birth country with my 2 kids but i want to make things legal , our ticket to go back to canada will be this coming November . Im drain and just want to get away with him , suffered domestic abuse while we re living together in Canada .I hope you can help me.

  3. im going through the same thing , my ex wife wont allow the kids to go and see the family in the uk .
    but for everyone who is bashing ex’s i do know if some one wanted to take my kids away for a year , and knowing i wont see my kids for a year , i whould be very upset also and fight tooth an nail to make sure i am apart of their lives.
    its fine this Annie has found love and moved on but it seems she is thinking more about her happiness than what is best for the kids. if the father wants to be apart of the kids life and the kids have a good relationship with the father . to the outside stranger it seems this is a type of parental alianation . looks like you want the european travel adventure but want to have it with the kids so you dont feel guilty

    1. Hi Anwar, looks like you did not read the article. The father of my boys was not involved in my boys life. Also, he offered no support financially or emotionally to my children. It was one of the reasons, I believe the judge allowed us to move.

  4. Hi I was very impressed with your article. Unfortunealy I’d like to tell you about a current situation with my sister. Same kind of story as far goes with an ex who won’t sign papers… My sister living in Canada born and raised as well as her 12 year old son had their Canadian passports revoked.
    5 days prior to leaving Canada for France she received permission from a Canadian court to travel and move internationaly as she saw fit with her son. She was granted sole custody of her son as there was no father listed on the birth certificate. Weeks after they arrived in France she received a letter from passport and immigration canada telling them that by the following week they had to forfeit their Canadian passports on the grounds she didn’t fill out “the other parent section” of her sons passport and they may not be allowed to apply for Canadian passports back for up to ten years. Even though she provided court papers. Leaving them pretty much exiled in another country, It has been a year now but is it about the other parent section ?,about child custody?, or maybe it’s because my sister is the founder and a co founder of two international peace efforts organization dealing with deradicalization efforts and consoling families who have lost or are loosing family or friends to radicalization. Without their passports she has had to cancel trips to over 9 countries . There is a hold being put on very important peace efforts . Ted talks and Anderson cooper 360 or cnn to name a few cannot do follow up shows with her and important international conferences are being missed. Around the globe. I am about to launch a petition to have her rights and their passports returned if anyone can be of assistance contact me please.

  5. Hi, I am wanting to give my children the same experience of living in France and am in the process of getting ready. I am worried about my 13 and 11 year old settling in to school and bring able to to cope. Any advice as would be really grateful. You are an inspiration. Thank you for blogging about your experience.

    1. Hello Samantha,

      It’s really hard to predict how different children will react but in general these things might be helpful.

      Language: Can you get your kids some language lessons before they leave- Or maybe learn some phrases together. Knowing even just a little bit of French may help them feel less shy or apprehensive if they are going to attend French schools.

      Once in France, enrol your kids in an after school (year long) activities like many French parents do and we do. After school activities generally start in Septembre and end in June or July. Their are many to choose from, you can probably start searching the internet for different things for them to do. My kids have taken, Manga drawing, ballet, art, dance, cooking, football known as soccer to north Americans etc. Immersing the kids in activities will help them integrate with other kids and maybe feel confortable more quickly in their new environment.
      Try to make friends with the other parents and maybe invite kids over to your house. This takes some effort but it helped our kids tremendously.

      As you can tell, for us- Friends have been key. So do your best to try to make some and put your kids in situations where they can make some. Not only does it make it easier to integrate but you’ll learn a lot more and have a truer French experience by having French friends. Plus, it’s nice to have friends to ask questions about certain things too.

      Don’t panic if your kids say they don’t like it their. One of my 3 children said they wished we had never moved to France the first year but after the second year changed his tune. Now he says he is very happy in France. My eldest is now attending university. All three are perfectly bilingual.

      Hope that helps.


  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m just about to start the legal process of getting a court order to take my daughter travelling with me for a year. For a long time I’ve given up on the idea of going, or even going on small holidays but one day I woke and thought ‘no! I’m not giving up my dream!’ my daughter’s father has held all the control for a long time and he hasn’t even paid for her and contact is a bare minimum because he’s too lazy. Yet he’s said he will have me done for child abduction if I take her with me for a year. This story has inspired me to push through the court and just go for it

    1. I’m so glad to hear that my story has inspired you. Good luck to you and stay strong.

  7. Hello!
    I’m so happy to have found your blog! Your story has given me a little bit of hope, although my situation is different, my ex is not too bad of a father. I’m now finishing up my divorce, I have been in the US for over 20 years, married to this man. I would love to be able to move close to my family in Argentina with my 9 year old son, but my soon to be ex husband, won’t let me even take him on a vacation there (he is afraid I will leave and never come back!, which is not my intention!) He did not pay much attention to his son for most of his life and now, that he has lost me, is hanging on to him for dear life! He has become a better father, my son even said in one occasion that his dad loved him now. I do not wish to stay in the US by myself, I have been here alone for over 20 years and I’m done! I brought this up to my lawyer and she didn’t even want me to mention it at any time! My ex gets to call the shots, we can’t move anywhere else, we have to stay right here by him! I’m sick and tired of him making me do what he wants!
    Anyways, do you think there is a chance for me to take my son with me? I really don’t want to leave him behind, but I don’t want to be here alone with my ex constantly telling me what I can and cannot do. It is so very difficult for me! I really don’t know what my options are and I don’t have a whole lot of money to spend in lawyers either.
    I would appreciate your ideas, thank you very much!

    1. Hello Vanina,

      My first bit of advice is to always talk to your child’s father to see if you can work something out. Unfortunately if he does not want you to move out of the country with your child and you cannot prove it is in the best interest of your child to move abroad than you may not be able to. However, he should not be able to stop you from taking a trip with your child to visit your family back in your home country. However you still need permission from your ex to do that. As I said in my article, sometimes I get asked for my letter when I travel with my children showing i have permission from their father and sometimes I do not.

      Either way, if he does not allow you to travel with your child or live abroad than you need to petition the courts. If you don’t have a lot of money, you may be able to file the courts yourself. If you are in the US, there are services that help low income people and you may not have to pay at all. If you don’t qualify for legal aid, you can still file to petition the courts also. Start calling the family court in your area to figure out how to go about doing this and start research on how to file a petition to get permission to travel with your child- Or move abroad with your child. Honestly, It may be very hard for you to get permission to move abroad. The court does not care if you have been alone. They care only about the well being of the child. Separating the child from a parent by moving abroad is not usually in the best interest of the child. You need to start thinking about what is in the best interest of your child because that is how the courts will look at it. Sorry I don’t have a more concrete answer. If you cannot find a job or your ex has been a bad father than that may help your case but again, you need to prove this to the courts.

      Best of luck to you.

  8. If you travel alone with your children, technically when you arrive a borer control person may ask you for persmission from the other parent stating that they gave you permission. I am sometimes asked to produce this document but not always. You could always risk not getting permission but run the risk of getting turned away at the border.

    1. It took a few months. From what I understand, each place, country situation is going to have different time tables.

    2. It took a few months from the time I filed the documents until my actual court date.

  9. Thank you for writing this article, there was some very useful information. Although we are sadly in the opposite situation. My husbands ex has just recently moved to another country from California (without her son) to pursue work. (And surf). She has been without a job for 9 months now. She comes back once a month to visit her son. We have him full time besides when she is in town visiting. (She does not pay child support). Now, she wants us to let her send him (alone) to Mexico for the summer to visit. (She still is not working, and just staying with people we don’t know) He is only 7 and we do not trust him flying alone to another country. We also do not want him separated from his sister (and us) for the whole summer. It is not that we do not want him to travel, but we do not trust her decisions and lifestyle. She has not made the most responsible decisions in the past. Are we wrong for not letting him go? She says we are close minded and not good for him as parents, although we are the ones caring for him and supporting him 100%.

    1. Hello Julie,

      I can’t really tell you if you are wrong for not letting your son go. You are the best judge of that. If you feel it is unsafe or feel your son would not properly be cared for while visiting his mother in another country than I would go with your gut. As far as I know, the burden will be on the person who left to petition the courts to ask that her son be allowed to leave and visit her in the other country. Just make sure it is all in writing and documented. In court you will have a chance to state your concerns. My only advice would be to document everything as you go. The courts will look at the best interest of the child. Not paying child support is not really taken into account. ie just because the mother pays no child support does not mean the courts will automatically think she is unfit or that it is not in the best interest of the child. I am speaking from personal experience. Good luck.

  10. 50/50 which MOST do. If it says decisions about eidactuon are soley (100%) up to you then he can try court but is unlikely to win and chances are you would already be gone on your vacay by the time he tried to have you served. Follow your parenting plan OR you will get burned. Judges despise parents who don’t follow their orders. This info is only for the USA that has standardized parenting plan regardless of what state although there is variance in each state-all have parenting plans if parents are divorced or never married.

  11. Hi Annie,

    So glad that you got the permission and loved reading your story. I am divorced and my x is not letting me take my daughter to visit my family back home. I do understand that I need to go to the court to get the permission. Do you have any ideas as to what forms will I need to fill? I live in Toronto, Ontario. He is being very unreasonable and there is no valid reason he is giving me for not letting me take my daughter on a trip.


  12. Wow..congratulations Annie. working that hard for the welfare of the children calls for dedication and love, qualities that most mother’s out there lack. And thanks for teaching us a few things as well.

  13. Here’s a new one for you… I am divorced and remarried. I have lived in a different state from my ex since our divorce (14 years now) Our court orders state that I determine primary residence despite geographic location. Not only do I have her passport that he gave permission for, but a notarized letter from him giving permission for her to live in the UK for the next three years. Her visa has been issued and is in my possession.

    He has decided that if I do NOT give him more visitation now, he is going to call the state department and rescind his permission. He has even told her he would have me arrested and put in jail (I assume because he would say I kidnapped her).

    I thought I covered all of my bases and have even called my lawyer (again…). His visitations would not change other than length and cost of flights. Our dtr is almost 16. She doesn’t even want to see him due to his alcoholism and abusive relationship with his current spouse.

    We are excited for the opportunities living abroad will present even though the reason for the move is due to my husbands job relocation.

  14. Hi Annie,

    I came across your article today when my son’s father would not sign a consent letter or passport forms to travel to B.C. From Toronto for 10 days. I want my son to know my side of the family as I am a single Mom. He started saying he wanted an invitation from my Uncle whom I was going to see, and to speak to him on the phone. I haven’t had a seizure for 2 years I’m epileptic as well. In our court order, I have joint custody with my ex, myself being the primary caregiver. My son lives with me. His father has visitation every Sunday however meets visits every other weekend. Not the point however…as of July 2014 either parent can travel with my son and consent is to not be unreasonably withheld. I am giving him permission to take my son to Morocco for 2 weeks but he doesn’t want to sign a consent form for us. He started telling me to swear on my son I haven’t had a seizure in 2 years. I haven’t so there is no need to make stories. He was telling me he has close friends who told him I had. Please…
    Anyway I’m thinking on Monday to consult a lawyer just to get a court order for travel to save myself some stress and headache and feeling like I am being policed on what should be a vacation and stress free time…

    1. Shireen,
      it pains me to read your comment because i know how it feels to try to do the right thing only to be denied the right to visit friends and family with your children. I think you are doing the right thing by seeking legal docs. Once i obtained them, it made my life all the more easier and less stressful. good luck to you. stay strong.

  15. Hi….oh goodness please tell me I have hope!
    I have two children aged 6 and 8 in South Africa, my divorce is joint custody even though we live in different provinces. My fiancé is British and just cant get work in South Africa so has gone back to UK. I sent an email to my ex asking for permission to please take the children with as not only is it safer there future would be a hole lot brighter. Naturally he replied NO I WONT GIVE PERMISSION…this is not to try spite anyone I simply am torn in the middle my love overseas where we could start a safter and most cost effective life and my children who I cant leave. Is there anyway I can get court to motivate this so I can take them

    1. I dont know whether you can or cant legally. all i can say is that it will be hard to take your children to live in another country. Especially if in this case, the children are not in danger. You may be able to work something out with your ex where he gets the kids in the summer or for a year at a time. It is not fair to him also to take the kids out of country because your fiance cannot get work in South Africa. Even if you think life in the UK will be better. You really should talk to a lawyer.

  16. Hi,

    I am in a similar situation. In 2007, I wanted to vacation in the US for 10 days with my son. My ex who had on a previous vacation given me written consent, refused to allow me to bring my son because he had found out that I was in a serious relationship (with my current husband) just to spite me. How stupid it is for a parent to take out their frustrations on the mother of their child just to piss her off. As if they have the best interest of the child at heart.

    Fast forward, I was not about to have that pos tell me where I can or can’t travel with my son, so I took him to court. 4000.00$ legal fees later, the judge granted me permission to travel anywhere in the world without his consent and ask for my son’s passport alone. Allow me to add, that since 2008 we have no news of his whereabouts. He owes me over 10000.00$ in back and current child support and brought him to small claims court to reimburse me for the legal fees he forced me to acquire when I asked him to travel with my son. I won the case their too. Nonetheless, since he is no where to be found, I will never see a penny of that 4000$ back either. But seeing as he owes me a nice chunk of change, I suspect this keeps him at bay where ever he is. He never came to pick up or see my son after I left him (he cheated on me when my son was 1 year old).

    We are now scheduled to travel for three weeks in Europe. I requested to renew my son’s passport one month ago, but Passport Canada is lolly gagging. The same day I was to receive his passport, they called me requesting legal documents pertaining back to 2004. What the hell. These papers in question only stipulate child support payments. Passport Canada seem to completely disregard the current court order that clearly stipulates that I can ask for a passport alone. I can’t believe the unnecessary stress they are creating and time is passing by with our departure date soon at our steps.

    I would have never though that I would have so much trouble doing the right thing, the legal way, while my ex seems to be living the good life, not paying his dues, creating havoc without lifting a finger. I wonder if Passport Canada issued him passport despite him owing so much money. Go figure ! My son is now 13 years old, thankfully next time around, he will be able to request a passport as an adult.

    Life is unfair and being a police officer myself, I often question on what side of the law some of these government officials work for. I never took any chances when travelling with my kids and don’t want to risk having to turn around and screwing up a vacation for anyone. I have always done the right thing and spent a lot of unnecessary money in making sure my son experienced fond memories in his travels.

    Kudos to our federal government for giving a hard time to honest people while other dead beats laugh in our faces.

  17. Bonjour Annie ,
    je viens de te lire et ton histoire m a touché personellement . De notre côté c est une bataille doublement difficile. Je suis canadienne , j ai marié un americain nous avons une fille et mon mari avait un fils deja que j ai élevé depuis quil est bébé car sa mère biologique était en prison .Elle est libre depuis 1 an maintenant et elle ne s occupe pas plus de son fils … elle profite et manipule le systeme par jalousie . Chaque mois nous allons en court pour differentes raisons . Nous devons nous battre ardement afin de proteger notre petit homme qui souffre énormément dans tout ca. Nous avons recement obtenu un ordre de la court nous permettant de voyager avec lui au canada . Donc , nous partirons enfin en vacance prochainement … elle a tente a tout prix d empecher le voyage en nous mettant des batons dans les roues … elle tente tout les coups possibles . Ma question est celle ci … peut elle appeler les douanes et creer des problemes meme si le juge lui a obliger de signer ou peut elle faire probleme a mon mari un coup rendu au canada en appelant l embassade et dire que l on a kidnapper le petit ? Jimagine quils ont qu a verifier ? Nous esperons des vacances sans stress car elle nous cause beaucoup de maux de tetes et de problemes alors je tente de me rassurer … ton histoire est inspirante bravo !

  18. Annie,
    Thank you for writing about your experiences with your ex. I am having a lot of trouble with my ex about traveling with our daughter. He does see her every other weekend and pays support so I can’t say he doesn’t have some role in her life. However, I am married to a Canadian (now a U.S. citizen) and we do try to go back to his home to visit. Not only that, I have a best friend in Australia that I love to visit and my daughter and I have tickets to go, leaving Sunday. Therein is the problem I’m having today. My ex did sign a permission letter and it is notarized. However, he’s tried for days now to talk her out of going and he’s got her so confused she doesn’t know what to do – it all boils down to her not wanting to make anyone mad or unhappy. Sigh. He’s harrassed me several times about the fact that I travel and actually fly on a plane (gasp!). I’ve told her she can choose whatever makes her happy but I have said I’d love it if she goes with me. We don’t travel that much, she and I, and only in the summer because that’s when I’m off (I teach) so it’s not like we’re jetting all over the place all the time. Do you think it worth my time to pursue the court ordered permission to travel since he’s giving me fits about taking her anywhere? I’m just so tired of his shenanigans, even more so the stress he’s putting her through. SIGH.

    1. I think you already know what i am going to tell you and that is…
      YES, i especially think it is worth it in your case. My ex used to give me a hard time even when i would go from California to Fresno nevada to take the boys skiing. it was some weird power struggle which he claimed was his RIGHT to dictate since i was travelling out of state. The courts may give you permission but they might not to travel anytime you like. You just need to be able to proove that he is harassing you or making it hard to travel. Once you can prove that the judge will most likely let give you an order to travel freely within reason. i.E; you cant leave for months on end or live in another country but you can go for family and yearly vacations.

      So at leasst try to get a court order. once my order was in place; i felt so relieved. No more horrible battles with my ex. no more fighting tooth and nail to go on simple vacations. It was sheer bliss and the boys benefited because i was not a basket case.

  19. I enjoyed reading your article. I am in the exact same situation but opposite as I am a “single” mother with a 4 year old boy. I am getting married and my fiancé is French but a US Citizen. We are moving to the US in September for all the reasons you mention. I am currently trying to make a formal agreement with my son’s father and at the same time asking my situation to be legalized in court. (Very rare visits, no support, dangerous behaviours… you know the story…) Wish me luck and enjoy your stay if you are still in France! (I did not check the date of your article, I am frantically browsing for advices…)

    1. Good luck Celine. it is very hard but can be done specially if it is in the best interest of the children.

  20. Hi Annie,

    I live in the U.S. I’m still married to the father of my child (unfortunately). We have not started our separation proceedings yet. I want to visit my family for 7 weeks this summer, and he does not want our daughter to go. What are my options since we are still married? Could I still get a court order if necessary?

    All the best to you,

    1. I always advocate trying to work out a halfway point but if that cannot be done than you will have no choice but to go see a judge or a mediator who will decide for you. You can do this even if you are not seperated yet. Sorry i dont have anything more helpful. The courts are the last resort and the only way to handle these types of things if you cannot reach an agreement. You never ever want to leave the country without permission of the other parent or from the courts.

  21. You crack me up! You went to Europe “only for 1 month”.

    No wonder the French hate Americans.

    1. Not really sure why going to europe for one month to elope would make French hate Americans but ok?

    2. You crack me up even more. I find your comment very strange!! For one, the French hating Americans is kind of a silly stereotype. The second thing is to your comment about going to europe for a month. Not sure how this translates to French hating Americans. Lastly I currently live in France and have done so for over 3 years.

  22. Great post. It seems like you are destined to see the world first hand. Even though the ex is an obstacle, you can still make your dreams a reality.

  23. I have a job a career and a four year old daughter. I want to move to america with my daughter. I am not happy in marriage and i know he will not agree to give me divorce or my daughter. How can i leave without his approval? And get a better life for my daughter and i?

    1. Hello Ema,
      I dont know that any advice i give you will help you. I am not a lawyer. i do not advocate leaving a country and taking your children away from their other biological parent unless it truly will benefit the child. Honestly if the father and the courts dont give you permission i dont see how you can leave. Not knowing your situation i would say you need to consult a lawyer and or at least talk to the father. Good luck to you

  24. Im inspired reading your blog. It is true that your sacrifice is not in vain.

  25. Hi Annie, I just read your article and loved it. I’m
    Going through some stuff right now with my ex and would like your opinion. I live in Canada and I have a daughter with my ex boyfriend. We were never married. I was planning on moving 8 hours away but my ex is taking me to court. And I talked to my lawyer and she basically said I can’t move unless I leave my child behind with my ex. I’m just wondering about the future, what if I get married and have children with my now boyfriend? Will they still not let me move?? Should I chance asking the court to move and see what happens? I’m just worried they will give custody to my ex because apparently neither of us have custody because we had nothing in writing saying that. Just wondering what you would do???

    1. You’re in a tough situation Jody. If it were me, I would ask the courts for custody. I don’t know your situation or story so as you said in your comment there may be a chance the courts may not give you full custody or give you shared custody. If you want to move, and take your child, you would have to prove that it would be best for the child to move with you. It’s always harder for the parent who wants to move because you are disrupting their lives and school. If you really think your ex may get custody than you need to make a choice to leave without your child and petition the courts to get your child during the summer months. Either that or just stay in the area where your child lives.

  26. Glad that you still made it with the kids.. It can be a great source of information for people divorced and want to travel with the kids all the way.. the process is hard if one of the parent doesn’t agree. Anyways, cheers to the information :)

  27. I’m super late to this, but I’m starting to think of moving abroad now.
    My daughter’s father has been granted supervised visitation (that’s how great of a father he is) and currently sees her for two hours every fortnight. I’ve been thinking about moving from Australia to the UK – it’s been a long term dream of mine. I am university educated and can almost walk into a job over there.

    I resent that this despicable human pays no child support and is not even so much as deemed capable of parenting her without supervision for an hour, still has such control over my life. I’m not sure what the courts will say here- I don’t know about in Canada, but in oz if you want to move more than roughly four hours away you need a court order. I have her passport already but I know that if I want to move for a long period I’ll need his permission… Although I hate his guts, I know it’s important for my daughter to see her dad and am not trying to be spiteful- the thought of not being able to fulfil any of my dreams until I am much older brings me to tears. This post gave me a glimmer of hope, so thank you.

    1. Hi Bella,
      I understand your predicament. i dont know Australian law but I am sure it must be a little similar to US and Canadian laws. Your move has to be in the best interest of the child even if the dad needs supervised visits the courts may not see this as enough of a reason to allow you to take your child out of country unless…. perhaps you are moving for other reasons which may benefit your child. In our case as i stated in my article, we were both laid off and their was a huge recession and no jobs. Our goal was to give our children a second language and courts took all this into consideration including the fact that the father did not pay child support and that he rarely saw my children.

      Good luck to you, you have nothing to lose if you talk to a lawyer even if only for an hour or two consultation…

      1. im in a bit more challenging situation…
        left an abusive/violent relationship…common-law relationship…we had a son together he is now 13 months…
        im in the process of retaining a family lawyer and file for custody etc,,,
        in the meantime…
        would like to travel…
        my mother is going to italy and i would like my son to meet his grandfather and great grand parents…(also extend family)
        …there is no court order at the moment…no separation papers…
        i would like to travel for 2 months this summer…
        any suggestions…?
        if he gives me a hard time about travelling, which I’m sure he will…
        what can i do…?
        can the court grant me permission to travel for 2 months?
        what can i do? thanks for your help.

  28. Yes travel and enlightenment are very important to a childs life. I am about to embark on a 3 week trip to Costa Rica with my son 3yrs. I would have liked to have gone for 5 months which was previously my norm. But that wouldnt have been fair to his mother. Yes depriving a child of life experiences is wrong but so is depriving them of relationships with their Father/Mother. You sound very selfish, I suspect if the shoe was on the other foot you wouldnt be so carefree with that relationship. My heart goes out to the father.
    Kyle Clark
    I doubt this will get posted.

    1. No really sure why you think i would not publish your comment.

      I am sorry you feel the way that you do but honestly it does not bother me one bit because you are allowed your opinion and for the record i don’t agree with it. Besides, you are basing your opinion based on partial knowledge. I dont expect people to agree with me but it was very clear that you did not read my story or understand the circumstances of why we left. So let me clarify for not only you but for those others that read this comment. Because i am not here to sway naysayers but rather to encourage those parents whose children would benefit from a year abroad with their kids. Take it or leave it.

      1) we had to leave the california area because at the time there was a recession and no jobs. If it had not been in true or in the best interest of the children the courts do NOT allow one parent to leave with the childre.

      2) my ex was never ever involved in the boys life. as i stated in my article; i had the boys full time and i had to even pay my ex and his sister on a few ocassins to take the boys just so that i could have a break. you see i was raising my boys alone as a single mom working with no child suppport no nothing. no gifts at the boys birthdays NADA.

      3) When my ex did see them it was under strained circumstances. Plus once he got so drunk that i had to come and pick up one of my sons during what was supposeed to be a months long visit.

      Lastly; my boys see their father much more now that i live in France and under more normal circumstances. I send them to california to see their father during a 40 day period during the summer. They get to live with him for a longer period during uninterrupted times.

      Have a great life. i wish you all the best. As for us, we are all doing fantastic.

  29. Hi Annie!

    Amazing post , it really helps me a lot… I’m still going through divorce and coustody battle. My soon to be ex is being a pain on you know where! He wont let me take my son out of state or the country! I”m from Mexico and i would love to take my 2 yr old to meet my grandpa. But theres no way he will sign! Im so desperate to find a solution

  30. Hi Annie,

    So glad to find this inspiring story. I am separated now (7 months) from a husband of 6 years who left me and our 7 year old, not long after we moved cross country to a new community.

    I have always wanted to travel overseas as a family – I was thinking that dream was dead, at least until my little one is 18. Now I have a little bit of hope…

    In the meantime, I’m trying to convince him to let me move back to my home province, where I have family support, lots of good memories, and educational/work opportunities that I don’t have in this small town. He’s refusing.

    I’m scared to go to court. Scared the court would order me to stay and then I’d be really upset. How can he not see that letting me move 7 hours away, and ensuring he can still have a relationship with his D, is the right thing to do? He is the one who left, now I need to move on with my life. I can’t stay here.


  31. This is so helpful & I admire your determination. Most mothers would have given into their exes but your link brings hope.
    My situation is similar i’m on my 2nd marriage & have 2 sons from previous. I applikoed for PR to Canada (automatically needed notarized consent before they even continued with the process).my ex was very cooperative.
    Was there only one year & my eldest teenager decided to return to UK so stayed with father (we were & still are on good terms). Fast forwarding 3years later have baby but my marriage is on the rocks mainly because i miss my sons (visited UK last year & want to return) & hubby doesnt want to! Baby was born in UK so now has no FULL canadian health cover, on a 6m (extended to 1yr) visitor visa so now we have to extend visa or file for PR. Hubby said if i want to leave Canada with baby to visit sons in UK i now have to get his consent.
    My question is although baby on visitor visa when this expires do i still need consent to visit or live in UK because baby will be in country illegally so if he placed a court order will we have to stay? I f yes then it would turn into a long court battle because I would love the flexibility to still visit the UK.

  32. Loved reading your storey and you’ve noted some brilliant info and tips that I am def going to follow!
    My sister lives in France and I have been applying for jobs in Geneva to commute its only half and hour.I have a 3 year old little girl. We dont have any family in the UK only my ex’s family and im waiting to hear about a job so we can move, at present his parents have withdrawn the care they were offering so my daughter is in paying hoping this will help my case along with my sister helping with picking up my daughter from school because my sister is a house wife…so the fact that I will have a good network…a well paid job and the fact they wont have my daughter in the hoping will swing it…i will apply for the court order…how long will this take???My problem is that I may need to take temporary contracts and if this is the case…I will need to go nearly straight away.How doable is this? If an employers offers me a job can I just go? :-)

    1. carrie, I would not advise you to just taking your daughter out of the country permanently without court approval. Perhaps you can get the ball rolling but i’m pretty sure you will need permission. More and more countries are asking for proof that you have the other parents permission just to travel to other countries.

      On the other hand, it will help your case that your sister is there to help you. As always, you should talk to a lawyer because every case is different.

      Good luck..

      1. Thanks for the quick reply…noted i will def make sure its done properly…my solicitor who from now i will be going it alone…dont have the finances for solicitor he said theres a few factors that the courts will be happy is that i have a network (meaning my sister who can look after my daughter whilst I work) the other is a job and also that my daughter is enrolled in a school…this my solicitor has said helps my case massively…also the fact that his parents were helping with nursery but are now not..but my question is…how long do you think getting the court order will take???

      2. I can’t tell you how long it will take. Each case is going to be different Carrie. A lot depends on how cooperative your daughters father will be. You will probably also need to consider how you will convince the judge that you will ensure that the relationship between your daughter and her father is maintained. My own case took about 7 months from the time i filed the papers to the day i got the legal document in my hands giving me permission but I know someone said it took her 2 years to complete the process. On the flipside, if you ex just signs a document allowing you to go with your daughter the whole process will go much faster.

  33. Hi Annie, as I am in the process of applying for custody of my kids and mobility, I came across your article. My situation is somewhat similar – I have remarried and have a gorgeous 1 yr old daughter with my second husband. My three children from my first marriage are twins 5 yrs old and a daughter who is 6.
    My first marriage was with a Canadian. It failed to work and I became the kids primary caregiver. The kids were just 2 and 3 at the time. Moving on, after struggling alone I applied to move to the UK. It was rejected on the basis of me having no solid plan. My lawyer was not experienced in mobility trials and after being forced to remain in the UK without my children after the decision (financially I couldnt go back when their father stopped making court ordered payments when I went on a vacation to the UK) I have since fought tooth and nail for access. My ex who was granted sole custody because I didnt return, does not follow the court orders and more importantly does not facilitate access. Thankfully the court has ensured access in the UK but I have to go to court due to my ex refusing. He even lied about my due date to the court, claimed my husband should not fly to collect the kids when I was pregnant and also implied my 59 yr old mother was physically unable to handle her grandchildren for travel. This is the tip of the iceberg I have had to deal with. Now I am about to go through the very gruelling task of self-representation in trial to present my evidence.
    When an ex is prepated to lie in court and damage your character, be prepared to prove it.
    My last lawyer did not make him accountable and didnt prepare me for showing a solid plan.
    Luckily I am prepared but I have tbe benefit of my husbands legal study.
    I recommend that if you are a parent who is suffering from a controlling ex who uses the kids to hurt you then you must seek advice and keep records of everything. At least if you represent yourself yoy have evidence. Case law can be found online and you need help with that too. Understanding the legal framework is also necessary for your argument. Read your relevant acts – divorce act, family act, childrens act.
    As you say Annie, every case is individual and a judge will always look at what is in the best interests of the children. My advice is wait before having children with someone and dont have your kids abroad.
    Ive learnt the hard way.
    Wishing all the good parents and their children happy times.

    1. Claire,
      Every word you wrote struck a chord of familiarity. It’s like that feeling you get of deja vu.
      You really gave some solid advice here.
      I want to re-emphasise what you said.
      keep solid records: Keep a journal even of al the days where the kids were supposed to go from one parent to the other. If all went well, mark it as a successful day. But, if something happened. That person was late or made it difficult, keep notes of it. having detailed records of something like this for long periods of time, even if it is on a calendar will do loads for your credibility in court.

  34. Hi, Thanks for your amazing story. Im going through something similar at the moment. Me and my husband got married in New zealand, I lived there 8 years before i met him , then we met and lived another 5 years there. We also married in New Zealand and had our son there in 2010. So all 3 of us have New Zealand passports but are originally from Bulgaria. We decided to go and live in UK, so we went there boughts a house in London and after a year decided to come to Bulgaria just for 6 months to visit relatives which we havent seen for a while….Tha plan was to go back to uk..My husban decided he wanted to get a divorce and told me that im not allowed to take our son out of Bulgaria. It was all a shock because I havent lived in Bulgaira for 15 years and can easy live and work in New Zealand or Uk. Now we are selling our house in UK because e needs the money and me and my son are stuck here in Bulgaria….i have no idea what to do, its so horrible, it feels like being in a prison. To leave Bulgaria I will need a written permision from my husband because Bulgaria is part of an agreement and they always ask for permisiion. My husband is definate that he wants our son to be next to him….its so unfair and i have no idea what to do..I might get the New Zealand courts to decide something but if we are not there i have no idea how it will happen..
    Just thought I will mention…sorry for the long post but I really hope I can be as strong as you were and get the process going and hopefully move back to uK or NZ because here the country is economically very bad and is no place to raise children.

    1. Stephanie,
      I’m so sorry about your predicament. As i was reading your words I wondered what i would do and although you may be overwhelmed and stressed out you have to take the first step to figure out what to do.

      I wish i could be more help to you but all i can offer you is encouragement and let you know that you are not alone. If you can, try to seek out a support group. Even if only online. They will help you get through the tough times so you don’t feel alone or isolated.
      Hopefully because your son was born outside of Bulgaria and you lived outside bulgaria too that that will hold some weight in a court of law in the UK or New Zealand.
      Good luck and stay strong.

    2. You need to seek legal help from someone in the place you are now residing. Where the child legally lives is usually the place of jurisdiction.
      Do not go abroad without the fathers permission unless you are advised legally. It is seen as abduction. Find out if Bulgaria comes under the Hague Convention. Harder to get children out of countries who are not.
      The child deserves to love and be loved by both parents.
      Try to see if that is possible first.
      Good luck Important that you seek legal advice.

  35. Reading your artical gives me hope in knowing that i can travel and possible live abroad with my 5 year old son. i am in what feels like a hurricane of emotions frustration and mind games, it has been a roller coaster for me too try get any thing on paper from my Ex, he say’s yes one day and then no the next, a yes/no tug of war with him, he threatens too end his life which i feel is black mail too getting me too stay in the country, very unstable and sudden change’s of character, he is behind in child support and has told me that he doesn’t intend on sending me money to help for our son. I have had no choice but too start searching else where in my professional field, for more disposable outcome,better living for myself and son and in a nut shell a new life. i do have full custody and visitations for my ex too see his son,when he can. i don’t know what too do at this point in order too move forward, should i see my lawyer at this point or keep persisting in getting the ex’s written permission?what do i do?

    1. Kirstin,
      I’m sorry for the emotional roller coaster you are going through.
      I remember when I was in a similar situation. The hardest part was seeking the help of the lawyer but once I did, i felt so much better. I had questions answered. i learned what my rights were and learned what I could and could not do from a legal standpoint so i could focus on taking care of my children the best i knew how.

      SO, i think it won’t hurt to see a lawyer and concurrently try to talk things out with your ex. If he won’t budge at least you will have gotten the wheels rolling with the lawyer.

      Good luck Kirstin..

  36. So happy for you. I too am living with 2 girls from a previous marriage and 2 girls from my marriage now. I got court order to take the girls with me to live in Kuala Lumpur this is so amazing for my kids. Now my big girls don’t want to go home in 2015 and me ether. How do I get the courts to grant me a longer time in TX?


    1. This is a tough one Tracey. I can’t give you legal advice but I can tell you what I would do.

      First, I would contact the father and ask him for permission. If he grants it than all you have to do is modify your current child custody agreement to reflect that he has given you permission. ( you’ll need to file the documents at the court house most likely by hiring a lawyer or perhaps a para legal.).

      If the father does not agree, you will have to take the legal route.

      Most likely you are still a Texas resident. Unless you changed residency to another state, i believe the last state you lived in is your official residency.

      Since you are no longer living in Texas, you will have to hire a lawyer to file the documents for you in court or wherever your child custody agreement is located to amend it.

      In California where my child custody case was held, i was able to attend court via the phone because i no longer lived in California. Perhaps Texas has the same type of law?
      I think A couple of things will work in your favour. 1- if the girls are older they can speak for themselves. 2- If they are thriving and it is in their best interest to stay there.

      So in short, there is no easy answer other than to seek legal help and to start as soon as possible. My documents took almost 8 months to get approved from start to finish. There is usually a backlog in the court system so start at least a year before you are due to return.

      Good luck to you. Let me know if you have anymore questions.

  37. Wow, I didn’t know you had to do all of that. I admire your due diligence and determination to make sure that your boys were with you.

    I know some deadbeat dads too (no kids here), and when you finally want to do something they all of a sudden want to “play the role”. Good for you girl!

    1. Sonia,
      wow, it’s like you just peered into my life. Thanks Sonia for all your support. :O

  38. hi, Annie,your are a brave soul and a wonderful mother! Your writing is very helpful for some peole who need to travel with their child after divorcing. Thank you so much!

  39. I’m really not into the whole marriage thing. I’m not sure why. It’s supposed to be every girl’s dream but it just seems like a hassle to me. So I just want to keep my name and not have to change it ever.. But then the whole having kids thing and different names.. yeah, it does sound like it get complicated, no matter how hard I try to avoid complications :/

    1. oops, your comment got stuck in spam until i released it. Weird.

      My husband and i thought about not getting married but did so in the end because of legal reasons. If he dies what happens. Health benefits, and it just made things easier. That’s why we did not have a big ass wedding. Instead we took our money and the kdis for a whole month abroad and it was still cheaper than any wedding. LOL.
      you do what is best for you. You’ll know when the time is right what to do.

  40. Hi Annie,

    Sorry for being so late in the game here, because I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this post of yours.

    Wow, Your story can be not only inspiring for other families but very helpful as well.

    I have a friend from Morocco who is stuck here in the US because the father of her is American. For this reason she says she can’t move to Morocco. I think that this post might be helpful to her and I will give her the link.

    I didn’t even know that you had a complicate situation like that either. Nice to learn a bit more from you :)

    1. Sylviane,
      what doesn’t kiss us makes us stronger right? Your friend sounds like she is in a sticky situation. It’s might be hard for her to take the kids to Morrocco. In my case, i own a home in the US and i have family in Canada so there was evidence that i would return one day. Your friend should talk to a lawyer which i’m sure she has already done.

  41. I have heard some pretty scary stories from friend (men and women) about their exs and kids leaving the country.

    I have to imagine it can get pretty hairy when their is limited cooperation between the parties.

    Sorry you had to deal with all that.

  42. Hey Annie

    I’d never have thought I would need a note from my wife if I took the kids abroad. That’s interesting.

    My wife is Irish and sometimes takes the kids over to Ireland by herself to see her family. They tend to drive and take the ferry over to Northern Ireland though so it will probably never be a problem as they just drive over the Irish border. Although I’m not sure about it if they flew into Dublin… Hmmmmmm

    I think you are doing a wonderful thing for your kids. Giving them first-hand life experience in another culture. That’s really the best way to pick up a new language in any case but there’s so much more they will gain from it.

    People generally want things more when they think they’re going to lose them. So, I guess that’s how your ex was thinking. Not that it was necessarily the right way to think. It’s just such a shame that you had to go to court.

    Thanks for sharing such personal information with us Annie.

    1. Thanks Tim,
      I think you are right about people wanting something more when they think they are going to lose it. It wasn’t until i met my husband now that i got the guts to fight back. Funny how a partner can do that for you isn’t it.

  43. This is a great post! I love hearing other moms’ stories….. having family court experience for about 8 years now, it sounds like California is the place to be. NY seems to be SUPER passive to fathers who don’t pay child support for 8 years, don’t stay sober for 8 years, and don’t keep their children safe. There is no justice, at least it seems that way right now!
    Your story is amazing and I am glad you shared it with the world! Peace!

      1. Hi Annie I loved your blog, I’m in the same situation. I have full physical custody of my kids but share joint legal custody. At first my ex agreed to sign a letter but then said no because I wouldn’t meet him in another state. He lives in Georgia and I live in Iowa. I want to travel to Winnipeg for 8 days for a family reunion, after reading my divorce papers it states that “The wife shall consult the husband on all important matters, after wife has consulted with the husband and solicited his input the wife shall make the important decisions on matters to the children.

        Do you think that would be enough to get through the border?


      2. Hello Camille,
        Unfortunately, when you cross a border, any border, you may be asked to provide proof that the other parent gave you permission to take your child out of the country.
        So, even though your agreement says “the wife shall consult the husband on all important matter….” and you did consult with him, you will still need proof.
        You could chance it and take your child out of the country and hope that they don’t ask you for proof.

        I have been asked a few times to provide proof but many times i have not been asked. This is why i had the wording in my agreement say that I don’t need written permission from my ex. Instead it says I can travel without written permission to and from Canada. I only need tell him of our itinerary and i keep my email as proof.
        If you want to make regular visits to Canada, i would have your agreement modified if you don’t think your childs father will agree to write a letter everytime..

        Try negotiating with him and offer to give him an extra week with your child or another weekend or something in return for writing you a letter to travel to Canada..

  44. Hi Annie,

    I did wonder about your son being called Andre Andre ;-)

    This is quite close to home for me as my brother-in-law can’t travel with his daughter for similar reasons meaning he can’t visit us in the UK.

    His case is quite messy with an on-going custody battle and in his case the mother doing all kinds of strange things to avoid discussing anything even via the courts (such as ‘accidentally’ losing her daughters mobile phone, passport, forgetting to inform anyone of a change of address…)

    Sorry to hear about all that you have been through – particularly knowing from my own relatives how stressful (and expensive) it can be – particularly long-distance.

    So what happened next – are you still in touch with your ex at all?

    1. Lots of people think that about my son Andre Andre. LOL. I don’t publicize their last names openly. Although anyone could find it if they wanted to.

      custody is an ugly even. I know your brother in law must know all about it.

      I speak with my ex- on ocassion but for the good of all i try to avoid as much contact as possible. the boys are old enough to communicate and initiate skype ccalls so i don’t have to interact much. It’s better that way.

  45. Wow, I had no idea you would need to go through that entire process when you’re traveling without the other parent. I guess it makes sense, but it’s not something I normally think about. Since I don’t have kids, I don’t have to think about things like this. This is good information to know though if my wife and I start having some kids. One of us might be traveling without the other (although I hope we’d be traveling together) and need a note from the other.

    It’s too bad that he was so difficult about it all. But I’m glad you got it all sorted out and can travel with them now.

    1. Steve, you are not alone. Many parents don’t even know this or do this. The fact that i have a different last name than my children usually raises eyebrows and that is why i am very careful. Plus, my ex does a lot of threatening if i take them out of country.

  46. Wow…it is really incredible what one can do when they make up their minds and set their focus and work towards it. You have indeed gone through a lot and I clearly understand what you must have felt standing before the customs guy.

    It is a nightmare for me when I travel back from India as well, everyone is left to the whims and fancies of these people who treat us like “slumdogs”.

    Nice pics.

    1. So happy for your input Praveen. I know it must be stressful going back an forth from India especially when you have no control of the outcome. Being treated like a “slumdog” sounds horrible too.

      thanks for you input. I truly appreciate it.

  47. Well done for sticking up for your family Annie.We live in Australia, last year I took the kids, no husband, to the UK and Florida, we had no problems, not even a raised eyebrow, despite the children’s passports being Australian, mine British. It had crossed my mind that there may be regulations involved, my husband thought they would just ring him. I guess not.

    1. Hi Alyson,
      I think 95 percent of the time it will be no problem but honestly, it only takes a few minutes for your huby to write a letter just in case. You carry it with you and if customs doesn’t ask you than no big deal. You throw it out. But if they do, you show it to them and no hastles.
      Thanks for you input Alyson.

  48. That sounds like a lot of work! I really want to have children, a big family. Sometimes I forget about all the work that goes along with it.

    1. Yes Meg, It can be a lot of work. Logistically and mentally but in the end, it’s all worth it.
      Thank you for stopping by. Always love to see you here.

  49. Hey Annie,

    thank you for sharing. I’m delighted that the courts make the right decisions some of the time.

    I wasn’t quite so lucky – after legally taking custody of my two oldest boys and having written permission to have them live with me in a different country my ex changed her mind.

    I made the mistake of flying back to Ireland to attend the court case only to be informed by the court that ‘children belong with their mother’ and I was ordered to return them.

    I was later informed that had I not attended the court they would not have been able to make an order as I was living outside Ireland.

    Appealing would have cost in excess of 100k with no guaranteed result together with further upset for the kids so I made the choice to visit as often as I could.

    That was some years ago and they now travel with me freely as both are over 18. I just regret the years that they didn’t have that freedom.

    Your kids a lucky to have such a wonderful mum and I wish you and yours all the best in your future.

    1. Wow Kevin,
      That must have been really been tough to lose your kids after your ex agreed to let you live abroad with them. Hopefully you don’t keep reliving it and saying “if only”

      At least now your kids get to spend time with you and who knows, maybe you might have a beeter relationship with them because of it.

      These things are tough especially with kids involved. All we can do is our best. Which it sounds like you do in spades.

  50. Annie,

    As you know, there are MANY ex’s that are difficult. I have friends that have dead beat ex’s or overbearing ex’s or my personal favorite- take them to court and lie about everything ex’s. (That one is my brother’s ex) It is so unfortunate that the children get what I consider mental abuse. So you hate each other (not you in particular), whatever, just pretend in front of the kids.

    On a better note, because I get sad when I hear of kids suffering, you are doing a great job with your kids. I know you try your hardest to give them what a fulfilled childhood and life.

    OK…I didn’t know if I travel with my kids without dad, even if we are still married, that I need permission. I am glad you told me that. Not that I am going anywhere without him (sometimes I dream, lol) but this knowledge is good to know.


    1. Hi Allie,
      I’ve heard a lot of horror stories of EX’s.
      It’s an uncomfortable and odd place to be. (to be at odds with someone whom you were married to and have children with and unable to come to an amicable agreement at least at some level.
      I’ve given up trying. As far as i am concerned, not supporting your children or providing mental support is the kiss of death in my eyes. I just can’t respect someone who doesn’t own up to their responsibilities. i digress.

      thanks for your feedback Allie.

  51. Good for you Annie!

    Phew, what a process! And I thought I had it bad being married 3 times and getting that all straightened out.

    Looks like you have done all the correct things to cover you. And I appreciate this post because in sharing your story, you will have helped many.

    It must have took some guts to do this, but it is real and it is your story…BRAVO!

    Due to the divorce rate and due to the world being one place where people have to travel or move for business purposes, this will help so many others.

    Thank you,

    1. Ah, 3 is the magic number right? The power of three.
      I feel like iv’e done everything I could and always in the best interest of my children. I have a clean conscience because of it.

      I truly hope this post helps people in one way or another.

  52. I applaud you Annie for standing behind what you want for you and the kids. I KNOW you have their best interests at heart and I’ve heard way too many stories like yours I’m afraid.

    I think it’s important that others also know what you’ve been through because that’s how others can connect.

    I have no doubt that the kids are having the time of their lives and it’s not like they were able to spend a lot of time with their Dad. I wish that were the case for more kids from divorced parents but it’s just not the norm.

    Thank you for laying it all on the line for us and sharing your own personal experience. You are one awesome lady and Blake is a fabulous man for loving your boys. I’m sure he loves them like they are his own too.

    Bravo to you all.


    1. Thank You Adrienne,
      The kids are definitely getting a unique education.

      And they actually speak to their father more now than they used to thanks to skype. I bought my ex a web camera so he could talk to my boys on his computer. Before that, they talked rarely over the phone except on his days to take them.

  53. Sigh…even the little I know (after the matter), I wouldn’t expect anything less from your ex. Crazy what people do purely out of spite and for no other reason.

    Its brave for you to share personal stuff in such a public setting.

    Even with my best friend’s recommendation not to, I litterally cut people cold turkey who cause me any bit of drama. Still…seems drama in my life is unavoidable. I feel things have to happen for a reason and someday I may understand why…for now keeping pushing forward. You are one tough cookie to brave forward despite all the crazy set backs.

    I read that you have to have a signed consent from the other parent. I have been to both Singapore and Vietnam with just Lily. I didn’t get questioned. The only thing odd was Lily’s tourist visa got confiscated in Vietnam during our departure. I have a business visa so when I went to VN for tourist, I didn’t have to re-apply. My mom did Lily’s visa for me. My mom is ok dealing with shady people so who knows what. Lily’s visa was a loose leaf one which I never came across. The custom guy kept it and looked shady. I was raised to be afraid of the communist so I didnt question… I just took Lily and made sure we left safely. Maybe someone is stealing Lily’s identity meanwhile. Scary…

    I didn’t share a common last name as my mom. Growing up, people always questioned it. So when I got married I didn’t hestitate to drop my last name. Though when we traveled back n forth to Mexico as a family, my passport at the time still had my maiden name. We did get questioned but only by the US Customs but it was no biggy. I do recall the guy making sure I was the mom.

    My sister also traveled a fair share with her 3 girls alone all around Asia. She kept her maiden name and hasn’t come across any issues.

    I will have to make sure I always travel with a signed document now. I think they should enforce it for child safety.

    I didn’t grow up in a normal household. I never had stability. The first thing I did when I became an adult, strive for stability and conformity. Then I realized….screw this all, lol. I fully support how you are raising your kids!!!! If I wasn’t tied down to a mortgage,my rear would have been long gone too. Screw the conventional way of living!! xoxoxo

    1. Oh Jenny,
      You might want to consider getting just a hand written note next time. One of these day someone might ask. it’s rare, but you never know. i get asked maybe more than average because of the different last names. But as of late not so much because the boys are older now.

      In terms of all the things you are going through now. These things seem to come and go in waves. It’s cyclical. It might be raining now but soon thing will start to clear up. It’s just how the universe works.

  54. Commendable indeed Annie!

    You surely have undergone a great deal and reached where you are now, thanks to your will-power and determination to make things work. :)

    It surely isn’t easy when you don’t have the support of your ex, more so when he creates further problems by being difficult where taking your kids abroad or settling there is concerned. But I guess very few ex’s would really be ready for such things or be really giving in the real sense.

    Loved to see such awesome pictures of you with your adorable kids, especially when they were small. And of course, Blake fits in so perfectly well with you and the kids as well. :)

    Thanks for sharing more about yourself and your family with all of us. This surely isn’t easy but I’m sure everyone facing a similar situation would learn a great deal about how to seek permission to travel and live abroad. :)

    1. Thank you for adding to the conversation Harleena.

      Yes we did go through a lot and for a long time i felt like no one was there to help me with the boys. Suddenly when I was remarried and when i wanted to travel with the boys my ex made a huge stink. or at least that is how it seems.
      This was not easy to share and i appreciate your support and your feedback.

  55. Great post Annie and kudos for sharing it! I’ve been asked for the permission documents when traveling alone with my kids multiple times and it’s very important to have those things in order! I’ll be sharing this article for my friends in complicated family situations!

    1. Thank You Jennifer. I was actually shocked to hear a few of my friends say that they don’t travel with any permission when they travel with their kids alone.
      I would hate to be turned away from a country if i didn’t have the necessary permission. SCARY thought.

      1. This was definitely a great article and just what I needed after a lot of mental turmoil over my decision to move to Canada. I am marrying a Canadian man in October of this year and am currently working with an attorney to be able to take my 8 year old son with me for at least the school year. His dad refuses to communicate with me, which makes going to court inevitable. My son is looking forward to it but I am still worried about the court outcome. Now that my two older boys are both graduated from high school I feel that it is now time for me to leave the bad economic situation I’ve been living in for the past 10 years and start my life over…and maybe finally find happiness. Thank you for inspiring me!

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