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Want to take the kids out of the country? You must have an arrangement with your ex first. Photo / Air NZ
Q: My ex-husband and I separated last year. We met when I was living in Melbourne and we relocated to New Zealand about 10 years ago. I still have most of my family living
in Melbourne and I have not been able to visit my family or take our three children to see their family in Melbourne. I want to take them to see my extended family for Christmas this year. My husband and I have had a generally amicable co-parenting relationship since we have separated, but I am not sure how he will feel about not seeing the children over Christmas this year.
International travel is a guardianship decision that must be made jointly between a child’s guardians.
Resolving a dispute between guardians
First, you need to speak with your ex-husband and get his agreement for you to travel overseas with the children. Some things you can do to ease any concerns he might have about the overseas travel include:
1. Providing him with a copy of your itinerary so he knows where the children are at all times.
2. Ensuring the children have regular facetime or Zoom contact with their father while they are away.
3. Keeping him in the loop about the children’s lives. For example, sharing photos. If you use a co-parenting app like Our Family Wizard, it’s very easy to share the children’s calendars and photos.
4. Ensuring you do not take the children overseas for the entire duration of the holidays. It’s important for the other parent to have some quality holiday contact with the children.
5. Offering to make up contact. For example, if you take them overseas this year for Christmas, you might agree that he can do the same next year.
6. Agreeing on health guidelines. For example, will the children be wearing masks during the travel? If they are not yet vaccinated, will they need to be prior to travel?
7. Agreeing on having copies of the children’s passports in case of emergency.
If you cannot agree on the above, you may attempt mediation. This can be through using a trusted friend or family member to facilitate the discussion. You could also attend formal mediation through a Family Dispute Resolution provider such as the FDR Centre or Fairway. If you are on a low income you may be eligible for a subsidy from the Government. Typically these mediations do not involve lawyers.
Mediation can take anywhere from four weeks to three months depending on each parties’ availability.
If both parties agree, you can also have an independent person appointed to speak with the children and relay their views. This person is called Voice of Child.
Order to resolve dispute between guardians
If mediation is unsuccessful or your ex-husband refuses to participate in mediation you may apply to the Family Court for an Order to Settle a Dispute between Guardians. The Court would consider what is in the best interests of your children.
Generally speaking, the courts are more sympathetic of overseas holidays where it is to visit family rather than for experiences. However, regardless of whether travel is to visit family or for new experiences, the court have recognised that travel can be important in a child’s development.
The Covid-19 pandemic has separated families who do not live in the same country. People are wanting to travel with children to see family they have not seen in a long time. The opening of the borders has been long overdue for some people. The overseas experiences can be really rewarding for children. If you can agree to the terms of travel between yourselves that is ideal but if not, mediation is a great option.
Post source: Nzherald