Question: If I have sole custody do I need the other parents permission to take our child out of the country on vacation?
I assume from your phrase "sole custody" that you are referring to legal custody-not just primary physical custody. If you possess sole legal custody, you will probably be able to make your travel plans without the other parent's consent. This also assumes, of course, that the divorce decree and/or accompanying parenting plan does not contain any special provisions that forbid or restrict either out-of-state or international travel. If they do, it will not matter what kind of custody you possess. You will need the consent of the court to take your trip.
Your divorce decree may also contain special rules about your duty to provide a trip plans to the "left behind" parent, as well as regular access between that parent and the child while you are gone. So read the divorce decree and parenting plan carefully before you do *anything*!!!
If you do not possess sole *legal* custody, US State Department regulations will generally require you to seek the consent of the other biological parent (or a court order overriding that parent's objection) before engaging in international travel with your child. More information about securing a passport and the overall issue of travel abroad can be found on the State Department's webpage (Form DS-3053, Statement of Consent: Issuance of a Passport to a Minor under Age 14). Pay special attention to paragraph 5.
October 20, 2006