If you share custody with your ex, you must make sure any vacations you take with your kids adhere to your child custody agreement. Otherwise, your ex can prevent you from taking your kids on vacation. In some cases, you can also be charged with child abduction if you take your kids out of the state or country without your ex’s permission.
Check Your Custody Agreement
Most child custody agreements outline holiday time for each parent and specify if and when each parent can take the kids on vacation. As long as your vacation adheres to your parenting plan, your ex cannot prevent your vacation – unless they cite a specific reason why your children should not leave the state or country.
For example, your ex may object to an international vacation if one of your children needs specialized medical care in the United States.
Even if your vacation does not conflict with your child custody agreement, you should ask your ex before taking the children you share out of the state or country. If possible, get your ex’s written permission, too. Asking for permission may be extra important if your parenting plan does not include provisions about vacation.
In most cases, asking for permission is a courtesy, but it can save both parents from misunderstandings and stress. If asking for permission feels too polite, you can also notify your ex that you are taking your kids on vacation and point to your child custody agreement for backup.
Keep Communication Open
When telling your ex about your vacation, be specific and keep an open dialog. Tell your co-parent:
- Where you will be
- How long you will be gone
- When you will leave and get back
- What you will be doing (the purpose of the trip)
- Who you will be visiting or traveling with
- How to reach you and the children in case of emergency
If your ex is anxious about any aspect of the trip, try to talk things out and provide solutions. For instance, if your co-parent is worried about missing the kids, you can agree to send daily photos or make time to let your kids talk to their other parent throughout the vacation.
Be Mindful of Your Time-Sharing Schedule
Plan your vacation according to your time-sharing schedule and give yourself time for travel delays and other obstacles. If you do not return your children to your co-parent in time, your ex could create problems for you, especially if they did not approve of your vacation, to begin with.
Although it is an extreme example, you could be charged with kidnapping if you fail to bring your kids home on time. The situation may become even worse if you are outside of the state or country you live in and/or unreachable for any reason.
Be mindful of deadlines and communication. Think about how much you would worry if your ex took your kids out of town, you didn’t hear from them, and they were late coming home.
Assume your co-parent would be equally worried and solve problems proactively by planning extra time for travel delays and keeping your co-parent informed.
What If I Have Sole Custody?
If you have sole custody of your child, you will still need to make sure your travel plans do not interfere with your ex’s right to visitation. You may not need your ex’s permission, but you should travel with documentation – just in case.
If you are traveling overseas, carry a copy of the court order that names you as your children’s sole guardian.
Can Vacations Cause Legal Problems?
Yes. If either you or your ex violates an existing parenting plan or takes the children out of town without permission, serious legal problems can arise.
Always consult your child custody agreement before going on vacation, and if possible, talk to your ex, too.
If all else fails, and you get accused of kidnapping, or if your ex skips town with the kids, talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
With us, clients always come first, and we understand that your kids always come first, too.
Let us find a solution that works for your family – call us at (310) 455-8364 or contact us online to take the first step today.