Summer Vacation for Divorced Parents: Legal Steps to Take Before You Travel

  •   |   Meghan Freed

With summer vacation just around the corner, you may be preoccupied with suntans and ocean views—but have you considered your legal responsibilities?  While it’s certainly not the most fun aspect of your vacation planning, it’s one of the most important, especially if you’re a divorced parent traveling alone with your kids.  Make sure you tick these legal boxes before you set forth.

Double-Check Your Packing List

Whether or not you’re the vacationing parent, you should work with your former spouse to ensure your children have everything they need to travel.  If you haven’t gotten around to consolidating your child’s medical and legal documents with your former spouse, now’s the time.  Ensure the traveling spouse has a valid passport for each child, any prescription medication they may need, and copies of their health insurance and immunization documents.  Once you’ve taken care of this high-importance packing list, you can move on to the toothbrushes and teddy bears.

Read: Halloween and Co-Parenting During Divorce

Get a Letter of Consent

When you travel internationally with your child, some airlines or security officers may ask you to provide a letter of consent.  As a precaution against child abduction, the letter essentially states that one parent has given the other parent permission to travel alone with their child.  You can find templates on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

Understand the Hague Convention

When the time comes for vacation planning, there may be concerns about the destination country—particularly when it comes to countries that don’t recognize the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.  While it’s upsetting, the unfortunate truth is that some divorced parents may violate court orders by taking their children to a foreign country.  The Convention’s legal framework allows member countries to return children to their home countries.  Remember, though, that’s only the case in countries that recognize the Hague Convention.  It’s essential to have legal counsel on board who is experienced with the nuances of international child custody issues so that you can understand the applicability of the Hague Convention in the destination country, evaluate the potential risks, and know your legal options in the event your child’s other parent violates your court orders, even if it seems unlikely.

Communicate and Coordinate

Your custody agreement or divorce order typically dictates your responsibilities to communicate with your co-parent if your vacation is out of state.  Often, you must notify the other parent in advance.  In many cases, you’ll need to provide details about your arrival and departure dates, flight information, itinerary, and a phone number and address where the other parent can reach your children.  If possible or if required by their orders, many parents coordinate their respective vacations with their children to make sure they work for everyone.

Read: Divorce & The Holidays

Next Steps

Some of our clients find that involving us before a trip is a proactive step to making sure that they are acting in line with the court’s orders in their case.  Doing so allows you either to rest easy that legal issues won’t ruin your fun in the sun with your kids or to propose a modification to the orders more in line with your goals for you and your children.  Freed Marcroft’s legal team of experienced divorce attorneys has extensive experience helping parents with divorce and custody-related matters, including court order violations and international divorce law.  Contact us today.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC