Hold Departure Order in Custody Cases

The prevailing rule is that a minor child should not be brought out of the country while the petition for custody is pending.

Temporary permission to take the child out is possible but the parent seeking to travel with the child abroad must first obtain the court’s consent.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court may on its own, or after an application by one of the parents, issue a hold departure order addressed to the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation, directing it to bar the departure of the minor without the permission of the court.

While the prohibition against taking the minor child out of the country already applies from the moment a petition for custody is filed in court, it is still necessary to obtain a Hold Departure Order and provide the immigration authorities a copy of it to effectively prevent any attempts to take the child out of the country.

Conversely, assuming there is a valid Hold Departure Order and the court subsequently allows the child to travel abroad temporarily, the parent accompanying the child will have to ensure that the immigration authorities are given a copy of the later order which clearly allows the child to leave.


6 thoughts on “Hold Departure Order in Custody Cases

  1. Misty

    will you be aware if an HDO or WLO had been filed against you ?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Misty: Ordinarily, yes, you will be aware because these orders are issued in connection with pending cases, and respondents (the one against whom a case is filed) are usually given notices regarding applications for any of these orders. But it is possible for a respondent not to know about it if he or she failed to attend hearings or receive court documents. This is why, it makes good sense to face court cases and receive court documents instead of avoiding them.

  2. Dean

    Can a husband file a HDO request for a minor child if he fears that his wife might leave for abroad with their child without his knowledge, even when there is no ongoing custody case involving the child?

    1. Atty. Post author

      Dean: You’ll have to file a main case for custody where you can apply for a hold departure order as a remedy against taking your child abroad without your consent.

      1. Dean

        Tnx Atty., supposing I can’t file a case for custody yet (financial reasons mainly), are there other ways that I can stop my wife, she has our child’s passport btw. If I can somehow get her to sign an agreement letter, will that be enough?

      2. Atty. Post author

        Dean: A private agreement is good but it has very little effect against taking your child out of the country, if she has already made up her mind about it. I’m afraid that without a hold departure order, immigration officers at the point of exit may not stop her from leaving the country with your child. Also, if you succeed in obtaining a hold departure order, you must provide immigration a copy of that order for them to enforce it at the time she tries to leave the country with your child. You can still try to discuss this matter with her out of court– she may actually understand your feelings and eventually change her mind about taking your child away. Going to court should be your last resort. The same goes for visitation– you can try to get her to agree to a fixed schedule and that would be perfect only if she does keep her side of the deal. You are in the best position to assess how she thinks and feels. I sincerely wish for the best outcome here.

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