Posting travel bonds in Florida for international child travel
In this interconnected world, for a child to have married or unmarried parents from different nations is not unusual. However, if the binational marriage or relationship breaks down, matters of custody and visitation can become complicated and contentious.
For example, the parenting plan – whether negotiated and agreed to, or created by a judge – may forbid or restrict international travel, but the parent from outside the U.S. may have family, property or economic incentive to move to or visit their home country.
And it would be neither unusual to want to take their child home with them nor for the left-behind parent to object, especially when it would violate the court-ordered parenting plan. And the concern may be genuine and valid. What can you do to prevent your ex from taking your child abroad without permission or in violation of a court-approved parenting plan?
The option of a travel bond
You may have negotiated terms or the judge may have ordered terms that apply to international custody and visitation issues, so those provisions may be adequate for you to feel you and your child are protected from prolonged separation that would violate your divorce or custody orders.
But if circumstances have changed or you face unanticipated concerns, Florida has had a statute in place since 2002 that provides a Florida court options for protective orders. Today we will focus on one main provision: the travel bond. (Other protections may also be sought under the law.)
To take action under the statute, the judge must have before them “competent substantial evidence that there is a risk that one party may violate the court’s parenting plan by removing a child from this state or country or by concealing the whereabouts of a child …”
The law provides that the judge may order “that a party post bond or other security in an amount sufficient to serve as a financial deterrent to abduction …” The left-behind parent may then use the proceeds of the bond if needed to pay expenses of recovering the child from abroad as well as legal fees and costs. (Abduction here does not mean in a criminal sense, although there are circumstances that could potentially constitute a crime.)
In part 2 of this post, we will talk about the judge’s decision making when they consider whether a parent poses a risk of child abduction or concealment that would justify a bond or other protections.