Traveling with children after divorce can get little sticky (particularly when the non-traveling parent has a tendency to be difficult), but the law does permit it, so as long as you take certain steps and the court approves it.

It is a huge no-no to leave the state or country with children after a divorce unless you have obtained consent from the other parent. This act is a major deviation that the judge will not take lightly. I encourage you to ask a Seattle attorney from my firm about how to manage your travel preparations so that you are not in violation of your parenting plan or legal responsibilities.

Can I Travel Out-of-State with My Kids After a Divorce?

Generally, the rule is that divorced parents can travel with their kids so long as they have made sure to receive authorization. Washington’s Relocation Act, codified in RCW § 26.09, and other similar laws, is in place to protect children from parental abduction. Pre-authorization is necessary to satisfy the laws and to maintain the rights of non-traveling parents. Divorced parents can travel with their kids, provided:

  1. The travel plans are not in violation of the parenting plan or custody arrangements.
  2. The other parent consents to the trip.

Adults have the constitutional right to travel as they wish, but the courts maintain the authority to permit or forbid a divorced parent from taking the child out-of-state.

Before taking any trip out of state with your child, notify the other parent and obtain a written travel authorization from him. Keep the authorization at home for safekeeping and a copy of it with you during your travels. If you plan to travel abroad, you will also need to obtain the other parent’s consent to apply for your children’s passports.

In addition, you will need to provide the non-traveling parent with an itinerary of the trip, as well ways to contact you or the kids in case of emergencies.

What if the Other Parent Objects to the Travel Plans?

If the other parent objects and does not sign a travel authorization, you will need to request a hearing with the judge to ask for permission to travel. Your parenting plan may also need modification. The judge will determine whether the travel is in the best interest of the child and make a determination accordingly.

For help from a child custody attorney with post-divorce traveling issues, call my firm, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, in Washington. We can help you obtain permission to travel, object to travel if you fear your child is unsafe, and help you seek any necessary parenting plan modifications.

Contact my firm today at 425-460-0550 to schedule a consultation.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington