Cruising. Do You Need Permission from Ex to Take Child?

Updated on April 22, 2012
W.K. asks from Florida, NY
18 answers

I'm trying to take my sister and nephew on a cruise and she insists she needs her ex husbands permission to go any where. But I'm not so sure. Do you know if cruise lines ask for letters from the other parent before allowing them to cruise? Would it matter if your still married? Share the same last name? He is a bit of a jerk and no I have no idea what her divorce agreement says exactly. Can he deny this trip? He lives with his father but my sister is allowed a week vacation. That's about all I know. I'm also wondering for myself as I'm married and if I cruise with my daughter does my husband need to provide a letter?

Funny I used to work in the travel and have no idea!

Edit: please I'm not saying we are gonna do something like kidnap my nephew. Or go without telling the father. And he is a jerk because he gives my sister a hard time when I go to my nephews baseball games or when i visit my sister. And we live in the same state. She hasn't been to my house in a long time because of the ex. She thinks her ex won't give her permission so she won't ask. I'm concerned she's more afraid to ask. I'm try find out if a letter is needed. I know Mexico is one place that requires permission. I'm asking for my own knowledge I'm not meddling in her life.

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So What Happened?

My sisters divorce is a little strange - she and her ex have joint custody with their son spending half the month with her and half the month with him, and additional time allowed for vacation. Apparently no one pays child support to the other with this arrangement which is different. He has physical custody for school purposes since based on her address he would have had to change schools. There is more to it but we are not talking about that. She does not have to ask him permission for anything but she does tell him where they are going. Even last year we went to florida and the ex moaned and groaned the whole time before we left, while we were there and when we came back. My sister and I like to travel with our kids, she does not want to ask him cause she does not want to deal with him and I was just wondering everyone else's experience with cruise travel. I wanted to know if you needed a 'permission slip' if it was ever asked or required it. I never mentioned going without saying anything to the ex or kidnapping, I cant believe how many accusations were in the replies. Times have changed with these exotic divorces and parental agreements and all. I showed her the replies to my question - maybe I didnt ask the question correctly, or maybe everyone was trying to read between the lines that were not there, but even she thought some of the replies were a little absurd.

I wanna thank everyone for actually answering my question and shame on those that didnt actually read the question and just passed judgement.

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answers from Orlando on

I guess I lucked out. I took my daughter on a Disney cruise back in October and they did not require any documentation from her father. My daughter and I also have different last names.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Your sister is a wise woman, she knows what she needs to do to avoid jeopardizing custody of her son. As far as you needing permission from your husband this is what my sister's travel agency told her when she went in to plan a cruise:

"Most cruise lines won't allow the child to board unless the other parent fills out notarized paperwork granting permission to allow the child to leave the US," and cruises do go into International waters.

Having had a problem and being detained at the US/Mexican border after taking their son to Tijuana she chose to have her husband fill out the paperwork.

The situation with your nephew doesn't have anything to do with the cruise line, it has to do with the international travel language now being included in child custody agreements. My son was kidnapped by his father and taken to Nigeria for 11 years, we're part of the reason this is now being included and I'm glad.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

It's not the cruise lines.

Divorce decrees are written in MANY different ways. Some need both parent's permission (written! OTW a ticked or sly parent can agree verbally, and then report you for kidnapping), some need no permission as long as it's on 'their' days. Some need a judge's okay past x number of miles, state lines, country lines, etc. Some have yearly 'vacations' written in that supercede normal time (like each parent gets 3 weeks). Some don't.

Failure to comply with the divorce decree at LEAST lands the parent in contempt of court, then there's custodial interferance, loss of custody, and all the way up to kidnapping and fines in the 10's and 100's of thousands (usually refelecting the # of manhours wasted by you kidnapping your child; police, FBI, etc.). Yep. This isn't something to play around with or treat lightly.

Whether or not it interferes with his time, your sister can petition the courts to take your nephew, if he won't agree. Then it's up to the commissioner or judge. In my observation these past few months, I've seen a LOT of these sitting on the pews waiting for my turn. The commissioner I had granted every petition that came in front of him, and furthermore told the objecting parent to bring their wallet next time they were denying a camping trip, disneyland trip, etc,. The commissioner next door, according to my lawyer, grants almost none. A LOT depends on who is deciding, and a lot depends on their own history (is one parent a flight risk, etc.). So it's really flip a coin, in my observation as to whether or not the petition will be granted. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Again, this is in my limited experience in waiting for my go trying to get child support.

My own custody order... I can leave the state or country with no permission needed... and my husband needs permission to leave the county we live in.

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answers from Washington DC on

It is becoming more common for travel out of state to be restricted unless there is written permission from the other parent. But especially when the non-custodial parent wants to take a child out of state or in this case out of the country.

The link below is great, definitely check it out.

I'd also check with whichever cruise line you plan to use and ask them what documents you need to have if both parents aren't traveling with the child.

If their divorce degree/custody agreement says the child can't be taken out of state without the custodial parent's/both parents permission ... then YES dad could say "I don't want you to take my son" and she would have to listen. If she doesn't listen then she can be arrested for kidnapping as well as contempt of court.

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answers from San Francisco on

Even if the cruise line doesn't require permission from both parents, it is none of your business if your sister ask her ex or not. He may be a jerk, like you said, but there is a reason why your sister decided to have a child with this guy to begin with. Let her make the decision of telling him or not, otherwise if you get in her business, then sooner or later you're going to regret it for loosing your sister or for whatever other reason. If the ex does not let the kids go, then try to come to an agreement, but don't get in between their decisions for the family they once had.

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answers from Dover on

Even IF his permission isn't needed, he should at the very least be told that his child will be on a cruise to wherever you are going to. It's his child too! Since your sister isn't the custodial parent (even if they have joint custody), it is very likely she does need his permission to take him out of the state (regardelss of where, especially out of the country...which a cruise does). She might not need his "permission" but may at the very least need him to have the knowledge.

It is better to have the permission slip and not need it than need it and not have it. Check w/ the cruise line to see what is required for the kids to go but then your sister also has to abide by her custody/visitation order.

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answers from Detroit on

My husband and I took our daughter and his sons on a Disney Cruise last year and he got a notarized statement from his ex-wife (their mother) that he had her permission to take them out of the country. We were only stopping in the Bahamas so I have to admit that I don't know if it was "required" or not, but they did it anyway just so there wouldn't be any issues. But they have a good relationship and we were able to take them on this trip with her blessing - it was more important to her that they get to spend time with their dad and have a really special experience and fun memories. This is between your sister and her ex and whatever their divorce agreement states, and whatever decisions they can try to hammer out together - she can also find out herself what the cruise line requires and what is needed for the particular countries you guys would be traveling to.

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answers from Cleveland on

if you are going out of the us or flying or going on a boat you need a noterized letter FROM the absent parent its the law, to be safe id get a noterized letter from your husband too for your daughter i know going into canada rather your married or not, if both legal parents/guardians are not present they need a signed noterized letter from absent parent OR a court ordered custody thing

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answers from San Francisco on

W., "a bit of a jerk?".....Honestly, if you don't have all the custody details regarding your sister's child, your sounding like a "bit of a jerk" yourself.

Would taking this child on a cruise be worth your sister losing custody?

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answers from Chicago on

I had it in my decree that each of us would need a consent letter to take our daughter out of the state we lived in.

If her ex denied the child going on the cruise during her week of vacation, she could get the court to approve it. Otherwise if the decree states the mom needs consent from her ex and she doesn't get it, she can be arrested.

No you don't need consent for your own daughter.

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answers from Albany on

I'm divorced. Per our legal agreement, one DOES need the other's permission to take kids even out of state, much less country.

If I were planing a trip, I WOULD, just for the sake of formality, run it by my ex, via email, so it would be in print.

But it's unlikely it would cause conflict.

If the ex in question is REALLY that much of a problem, I'm not sure it's a good idea to take the kid. Sorry, but even assholes have a legal right to decide whether their kids can leave the country. Sigh.


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answers from Los Angeles on

I have seen several documentaries about new cruise ships and the process of loading and unloading, including passengers and luggage and cargo.

In every documentary there is at least one segment when the divorced parent is denied boarding because the child didn't have a notorized statement from the other parent giving permission for the child to leave the country.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Redding on

It says in my custody papers that neither I nor my ex can take our child even out of the county, let alone country, without the other's permission.
It may seem kind of restrictive, but really, if you think about it, both parents should know where the child is in case of emergency, etc.

I wouldn't think of taking my kids on a cruise without letting their father know and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't do that to me either.
I think, just to be safe, having a letter from your nephew's father would be the best way to go whether it's required by the cruise line or not. That way, he couldn't come back and say something to the effect that he wasn't aware and cause problems later. If he truly is a jerk, you'd want to make sure you have his permission in writing.

You can always contact a travel agent and ask what the cruise line you are considering requires.

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answers from Washington DC on

sure. would your sister be okay with her son's father taking him out of the country without her say-so?

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answers from Washington DC on

We took my SD and her friend (both under 18 at the time) to Bermuda, and they DID look for permission from both DH's ex and the other child's parents when we boarded the boat. I would expect that they will look for it.

She will also need her ex's permission to have a passport for the child (and vice versa). If the ex does not come along for the passport application, he needs to provide written, notarized approval. I even needed this for my DD since DH was unable to come with us.

I would give the ex as much time as possible to return a form to you, notarized. It took a bit of work to get it, but we finally got DH's ex to go apply for the passport and get the form notarized. There's a standard form online.

Consider trip insurance if you think he won't provide the permission.

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answers from Tucson on

That sounds so wierd!
I dont get it. He is her child, but she doesnt have custody. Sounds like something more is going on?
In our custody agreement we have how many vacations days we have year and how long the children can be away from one parent at a time ( no longer than 4 days). 14 days vacation a yr has to be asked for 10 days in advance.
Thats whats on paper but we work with eachother the best we can to accomodate for eachother specially when its for our kids fun.
I dont see why a cruise would ask one way or another. Mexico requires permission. Not to my knowledge. My dad goes with his 7 yr olds without mom and she doesnt send a note. bizarre thinking imo

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answers from St. Louis on

Most decrees allow for a period of time for vacation, I would be shocked if they all don't. The do this so that an ex cannot manipulate and control using the decree.

So using mine as a guide I can choose three weeks and yes I have to tell him where we are going but he has no legal right to veto the trip without dragging me to court. If he drags me to court and loses it is also in the decree that he must pay all legal costs, his and mine, again to keep him from manipulating using the decree and by extension the courts.

Short answer he can't keep her from going on vacation.

After reading the answers I am shocked how many people put into their decrees ways to manipulate and control the other party. We knew going in what my ex was capable of and went with the standard decree which protects me from that.

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