Whether you are planning to take a few weeks to rest in the Hamptons or on the Amalfi coast, divorced parents often wonder if they can bring their children with them on vacation without the consent of the other parent.
Many parents who share custody of their children with another parent assume they cannot leave the state or the country without the consent of the other parent. However, this is not necessarily the case, although each case is different, and you must ensure compliance with your custody agreement or court order.
Before you buy those tickets or make plans, make sure you go through the list below so you can be sure you comply with the law and enjoy your time away.
Step 1: Review custody order or agreement
These documents typically outline the specific terms and conditions regarding vacations and travel. Pay close attention to any provision related to giving the other parent notice of upcoming travel, travel itineraries, or getting consent for trips that involve leaving the country.
Sometimes, for example, a custody order may allow a parent to travel with their children to any country that is signatory to the Hague Convention but not to countries that do not adhere to that treaty.
Step 2: Involve the other parent
In other instances, custody orders are silent on the matter of travel and vacations and only address custody and parent time, in which case you should communicate with the other parent and your attorney about your vacation plans.
Keeping the other parent involved in your vacation plans helps maintain a positive co-parenting relationship. If you and the other parent do not have a positive relationship, involving your attorney may be the way to go.
Step 3: Propose a written agreement
If there are concerns about the other parent’s response, discuss with your attorney whether there is a written agreement detailing the specifics of the vacation, such as dates, destination, and contact information during the trip. Having a written record can be helpful if a dispute arises later.
Step 4: Mediation or litigation
If communication with the other parent breaks down, if your vacation overlaps with the other parent’s parenting time and you cannot adjust the travel dates, and the other parent is not cooperating, consider mediation or, if all else fails, seeking a modification of the custody agreement through the court, especially if the other parent unreasonably objects to the trip.
It is critical to understand that the most valuable guidance you will receive will probably come from the custody order or agreement. If such an order is silent on matters of vacation, open communication, a willingness to compromise, and having reasonable expectations are likely to work best.