Maybe you want to take your kids on a quick out-of-state visit to see their grandparents during the holiday season, or maybe you just want to take them skiing. In prior years, this hasn’t been an issue.
Now, however, you’re in the process of a divorce and you’re no longer sure what rules you need to follow. You share the parenting duties and have roughly equal time with the kids, but you’re not sure how much leeway you have when it comes to out-of-state travel. Here’s what you need to know:
You need to check your parenting plan before you do anything
If you’ve already established a temporary parenting plan with your co-parent, you need to look at the document carefully to see if it addresses travel – especially out-of-state travel.
Most likely, your agreement allows for in-state travel during your parenting time, but out-of-state travel probably requires your co-parent’s consent. That means obtaining a letter of consent for travel from your ex.
But, what if the agreement is silent on the issue? It’s still wise to obtain a letter of consent. That can prevent allegations of parental kidnapping or charges that you violated the parenting plan in any way.
It may feel a little intrusive to write up a letter of consent, because you should generally include all the information your co-parent may need, including:
- An explanation of where you intend to travel with the children
- A rough itinerary of your trip, including return dates
- Contact information for the trip, including hotel information
- The names of anybody else who will be traveling with the children
When you want your co-parent to agree to your travel plans, you need to be prepared to negotiate a little and make some concessions that will help them feel comfortable with the situation. That may mean promising to have the kids call every night before bed or agreeing to text when you hit certain points in your destination.
If your custody agreement doesn’t have a clear provision for out-of-state travel and you want to add one, it may be time to discuss a child custody modification (before any final orders are put in place).