How to avoid being detained when traveling with your child

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2023 | Custody And Parenting Time |

If you’re a newly separated or divorced parent, this may be your first holiday season traveling alone with your child. It’s crucial to abide by the parenting agreement you have in place and get your co-parent’s approval for your travel, if it’s required.

If you don’t yet have formal agreements, it’s best to at least codify any agreements you make informally for how your child will spend the holidays and get written agreements for any travel. 

Even with formal agreements in place, it’s a good idea for a parent to get a consent to travel letter signed by their co-parent before they travel with their child. If you’re traveling by air, you may need to present that to a TSA employee or other security official or even to someone with the airline. 

Who is most likely to be wrongfully detained for suspected child trafficking?

These personnel are all trained to be on the lookout for adults who may be engaged in child trafficking. Unfortunately, at least if you go by anecdotal evidence, the families most likely to be detained and questioned are those where the parent and child are different races.

Recently, a father took to social media with his story of being detained by police after he and his two children got off a flight because a flight attendant suspected that the musician, who is Black, was trafficking his two sons, who are biracial. The frustrated father noted, “I had to go through a ticket counter. I had to go past federal agents. It should stop…once we get past TSA.” He also noted, “There were many steps she [the flight attendant] could have taken before she lobbed the hand grenade of having the authorities called.”

A woman who had a similar experience when flying with her biracial child said, “I hear all the time from parents that this is happening to. The only commonality…is that the parent has a different skin color than the child who is involved.”

Be prepared with plenty of documentation

While certainly this seems unfair and discriminatory, particularly when airline personnel draw conclusions without evidence, security personnel do have a right to ask questions. The better prepared you are, the easier the travel experience should be for everyone. This means having documentation ready, including your child’s birth or adoption certificate, your custody order and divorce decree (if they’ve been approved) and your travel consent letter.

If you have questions or concerns as you’re making your holiday travel plans, it’s a good idea to get legal guidance as soon as possible.