Do you need any legal documents to leave Canada with your children?

Some terms in the Divorce Act will change on March 1, 2021

Effective March 1, 2021, the federal Divorce Act will use terms similar to those in the BC Family Law Act.

  • The term decision-making responsibility will replace custody to describe the responsibility for making important decisions and getting information about the children after separating.
  • The term parenting time will be used to describe the time that a parent spends with their child and is responsible for supervising and caring for the child.
  • The term contact will be used instead of access to describe the time children spend with a person who isn't a parent. This includes grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others.

If you're travelling outside of Canada with your children, you'll probably be asked to prove (show) that you're allowed to take your children out of the country if:

  • you're travelling without their other parent, or
  • you're their only parent.

You'll need certain documents to do this:

  • If your children have another guardian, or someone else shares custody of them with you, bring a letter from that person that says they give you permission to take the children out of Canada. The government of Canada website recommends that you use their consent letter.
  • If your children don't have another guardian, bring legal documents that prove you don't need to ask anyone if you can travel with them on your own. For example:
    • a death certificate (if the other parent is dead),
    • a court order that shows you're the only guardian and can travel without asking anyone, or
    • an agreement that says you're the only guardian and can travel without asking anyone.

You'll also need these documents:

  • when you apply for passports for your children, or
  • any time you need to show you're a sole (only) guardian (for example, for school trips).

If you don't have any of these documents, get legal help.

Before you travel to another country, check what other documents you'll need.

Ask the embassy or consulate of the country you're travelling to what you'll need and whether your documents need to be notarized. That means a lawyer or notary public watches you sign the letter and then signs it as a witness to your signature.