With the holidays and school breaks coming up, many families are trying to coordinate vacation plans. However, for divorced or separated parents with child custody arrangements, even a brief trip can pose potential challenges – from scheduling conflicts to disagreements about travel.
At Bousquet Holstein, we understand that planning out-of-state or international travel can be especially stressful when trying to navigate your custody order. We are here to provide you with some helpful tips and guidance to make this process easier.
Consult Your Child Custody Order
Most questions parents may have about travel can be answered using your existing custody order. Such documents should specify who has the child under their care during the holidays and the circumstances in which the child can travel – either out of state or out of the country. Some permit trips, some permit trips so long as certain conditions are met, and others strictly prohibit them.
If a custody order allow trips, sometimes the guidelines are as simple as letting the other parent know what you have planned. In other circumstances, you may need to seek their explicit permission, provide advance notice, and even a detailed itinerary. If this is the case, you should provide the appropriate documents on time in accordance with the order and/or have a copy of the agreement on hand in case of emergency.
If Your Order Is Silent
If you do not currently have an agreement or custody order, or such document does not address travel situations, you should try to communicate with your co-parent and come to an agreement about travel. If the two of you can come to an agreement outside of your custody order, make sure this arrangement is in writing to prevent any potential issues.
If you have tried to compromise with your coparent and they refuse to cooperate, you may need to file a motion with the court.
Communication and Planning
Our family attorneys emphasize the importance of transparent and timely communication between parents when planning vacations. Both parents should be aware of each other’s plans well in advance.
To avoid conflicts with your co-parent, you may want to discuss:
- When the trip is
- Where you will be going
- Who will be going on the trip and/or if you will be visiting someone
- How long you will be gone for
- How the co-parent can contact the child while on vacation
- Whether the trip will impact the existing visitation schedule
If a parent is especially anxious about their child going away on a trip, it may be helpful to discuss how often the child(ren) will contact the co-parent while away from home.
When planning a trip post-divorce, especially if it impacts the existing schedule, you should be prepared to compromise. If you are seeking days outside of your schedule, you should seek permission in advance and plan how you can make up days in the future.
While tension may run high, both parents should consider what is best for the children and if the vacation will be a positive experience for them to have. If plans change while on the trip (flights are delayed, change in stay, need extra time) the other parent should be notified immediately.
Reach Out to an Attorney if You Need Help
It’s not uncommon for parents to disagree when it comes to out-of-state or international travel, especially in contentious relationships.
If you have tried communicating with your coparent and they will not cooperate or compromise, you should reach out to your attorney for guidance. If necessary, your attorney can help you request court enforcement of a custody order or negotiate new terms. Most courts will not allow a parent to unreasonably withhold consent for children to travel with the other parent, but each circumstance is unique.
If you’re aware that your co-parent is seeking to violate your custody order without your consent, contact an attorney immediately. Our firm has handled situations as extreme as having a child added to a No-Fly List, Putting the United States Department of State on alert to prevent unauthorized international travel with a child, and involving the Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program to prevent a child’s unauthorized international travel.
At Bousquet Holstein PLLC, we understand how stressful planning a trip can be in complicated custody situations. To discuss your situation with an attorney, please contact our team of Divorce and Family attorneys.
Laura is a divorce and family law attorney in Ithaca, New York. As an experienced litigator, she zealously advocates for clients in matters including divorce, equitable distribution, custody, parental access, child support, and enforcement proceedings. Laura has specifc expertise working with high-net-worth individuals.
Additionally, Laura skillfully negotiates and drafts financial and custodial settlement agreements as well as prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with additional extensive experience handling cases for international clients or domestic clients whose cases pose cross-border issues.