As a family, traveling together isn’t very complicated. It’s pretty easy to decide on dates and destinations and then proceed on the journey. However, after a divorce, making travel decisions could prove challenging. You’ll have to consider your custody arrangements before making any move.
Depending on the nature of your travel plans, your custody agreement can be affected. If you’re vacationing with the children, for instance, does the timing fall within your scheduled parenting time? If it’s an out-of-state trip, does your custody agreement permit you to travel with the kids outside the state?
When traveling, with or without your kids, there are several things you must consider. You’ll need to find ways to include your children in your plans and consider the other parent without violating a court-ordered agreement.
Generally, courts love agreements that allow children to spend time with either parent away from their regular day-to-day experience. Therefore, when drafting custody arrangements during a divorce, parents are allowed to factor in vacation time.
The custody agreement usually contains details of how much time each parent can spend vacationing with the children. It may clearly state the exact dates either party may travel for vacation with the child. Furthermore, there may be instructions for both parties to give each other notification and schedule the traveling time in advance.
Your custody agreement should clearly state under what circumstances one parent is allowed to travel with the child. More specific details should also follow. For instance, if a parent travels with the child, will the other parent be allowed contact during that period? How soon must the parent with the traveling documents make them available to the other parent?
If there are different conditions for out-of-state and out-of-country travels, you may want to specify those as well. However, if your traveling plans infringe on your co-parent’s scheduled custody time, discuss and agree on make-up options.
If your custody order doesn’t prevent out-of-state trips, you may take your kids on vacation even during the pandemic. Additionally, if the trip is for a custody exchange, court-ordered travel still stands. However, the current COVID-19 restrictions and quarantines can affect co-parenting and have certainly made traveling challenging for families who live in separate homes.
For instance, the state you’re taking a vacation in may require a mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone coming from high-risk locations. If your scheduled parenting time is less than two weeks, you’d either be violating a state law or a court order.
Perhaps you’re planning a drop-off custody exchange where you can be back within 24 hours without having to self-isolate. But would your ex rearrange their schedule and agree to the financial responsibility of quarantining the kids?
For whatever reasons you need to travel, ensure you’re not violating state laws and rules that can affect your custody agreement.
Traveling for children whose parents maintain separate homes usually has its unique challenges. However, the COVID-19 restrictions don’t make it any easier.If you have concerns about your child custody agreement, speak with our family law lawyers at the Law Office of Molly B. Kenny. Call us today or use our online contact form to send an email.