If this summer will include your first vacation with your kids since you and your co-parent ended your marriage, you’ve probably been more than a little nervous about managing it on your own. It’s a good idea to start planning early. That includes communicating with your ex.
If you have added time carved out in your custody agreement for the kids to have a vacation with each of you, it’s best to fit your vacation plans into that time. If you need to take your summer vacation with your child during the time they’re scheduled to be with their other parent (maybe to attend a wedding or other scheduled family gathering), be sure to make the schedule switch as soon as possible. Get it in writing.
What kind of documentation do you need?
Before you plan anything outside the area, verify exactly what your custody agreement says. If you need your co-parent’s permission to take the kids out of state or more than a specified distance, be sure to get the necessary consent – again, in writing. Your attorney can draft a travel consent letter for them to sign that provides the necessary information (like your schedule, locations, contact information and other details).
It’s a good idea to keep a signed copy of this letter with you as you travel just in case you need to present it for any reason. Besides the letter, it’s wise to bring along some other kind of documentation that proves your relationship to your kids. Having scanned copies of their birth certificates on your phone can be helpful. That’s especially important if your last name is different than theirs or if they’re too young to speak for themselves.
Traveling outside the U.S.
If you’re going out of the country, remember that both parents need to provide written consent for a child under 16 to get a passport. If they have passports, you still need to get approval from your co-parent if you share custody to take them out of the country – even if you’re just driving up to Canada. Required documentation varies depending on where you’re going.
If your co-parent isn’t agreeable to your plans and you can’t resolve the issue on your own, you may need to take the matter to court if you strongly believe that the trip you want to take is what’s best for your kids.