Ending a marriage requires navigating a number of challenging issues, not the least of which is child custody which is now referred to as parental responsibility and parenting time. While many divorcing couples are able to arrive at a workable arrangement by entering into a Parenting Agreement, getting from point A to point B can take some time, and a series of negotiations.
So what happens when one parent wants to take a child on a vacation before the marriage is legally dissolved?
Given the fact that that the holiday season is approaching and schools will generally have a recess, many parents hope to travel with their children to visit relatives or perhaps to restore order and calm during a difficult time.
A vacation is probably a much needed respite for a parent going through a divorce, and could give him or her an opportunity to bond with the children. Generally, it is permissible to travel with your children while you are going through a divorce or custody case, depending on the circumstances.
If there is a court order that limits a parent’s contact with the children – such as an order of protection or supervision, or a Court order or agreement between the parties restricting travel, those terms must be followed.
If there are no such restrictions, the courts generally have a favorable view of divorcing parents traveling with the children. There are some ground rules, however, and you can’t just go anywhere at any time. A number of factors will be considered such as the age of the children, the distance and duration of travel, and whether the children will miss any school time.
Additionally, the other parent has a right to know about the travel arrangements, either through your attorney or directly, depending on the circumstances of your case. In short, you must inform the other parent about the days you plan to travel and the destination. Before departing, you must also provide a complete itinerary which includes flight details, hotel arrangements, as well as your contact information.
In short, the rule of thumb for providing information is what you would want to know if the other parent planned to travel with the children. Moreover, as we wrote in a previous blog (here), international travel poses additional issues, particularly regarding obtaining passports for your children. Ultimately, navigating travel-related issues during a divorce or child custody case requires the advice and counsel of a skilled family law attorney.
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