Pittsburgh Family Law Attorney Julie focuses her practice on family law matters including divorce, child custody, support, asset division, prenuptial agreements, and international custody. Julie also has experience in family law...Read More by Author
Child Custody Summer Travel Checklist
We all create checklists when preparing for summer travel. The standard checklist includes making sure you have the right clothes, snacks, activities, electronics, chargers, and medications packed. When you are dealing with a co-parent, there should be a few more items on the summer travel checklist.
Choosing your vacation dates
Most child custody orders set deadlines for declaring summer vacation dates. Check your order to determine if it is thirty (30) days in advance, sixty (60) days, by June 1st, or by some other date. Make sure you provide your chosen dates in accordance with the deadline to avoid unnecessary fights.
You should also make sure your dates comply with other provisions of the custody order. You normally cannot travel over a holiday, unless the holiday is your custodial time that year. You should also check to see if there are rules about how long the vacation can last, if it needs to include mostly your custody time, and if your weekend is part of the vacation or tacked onto the end of the vacation. Usually, there is a vacation and/or travel section in your custody order that addresses all the scheduling details.
Share your travel itinerary
Most custody orders require that you provide a travel itinerary including, where you are staying, how you are traveling, address where you are staying, flight information (if applicable), contact information, and who you are traveling with. Provide this information to your co-parent in writing to avoid disputes. When you provide the information in writing, there is no confusion about if the information was sent, when the information was sent, and what information was sent.
Remember if you are using your cell phone as part of the vacation contact information, you should keep it on and charged at all times during your travel. This is the how your co-parent expects to be able to contact you and the children.
Know the limits on where you can travel
Check your custody order to see if there are limits as to where you can travel with your children. Sometimes you need permission to leave the state overnight or you may need to provide notice you are leaving the state overnight. Some orders allow you to travel anywhere in the continental United States without limitation. Some custody orders prohibit international travel, or travel to specific countries. Check for limits in your order. Then plan to comply with the limits, or request permission to travel outside the limits.
International travel usually requires permission of the court or the other parent. If you intend to travel outside the United States, check to see if the country to intend to travel to is a signatory of the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. You are more likely to get permission to travel to countries that are signatories to this Convention. You can find a list of signatory countries here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/abductions/hague-abduction-country-list.html.
Secure travel documents timely
Make sure you know what documents you need for travel and how to secure them. If you need a child’s birth certificate or passport, make sure you have those documents in your possession. If not, make arrangements with the co-parent to pick up the necessary documents.
If you need to obtain new documents, leave plenty of time. You will need your co-parent to cooperate. Obtaining a passport for the child is often considered a legal custody decision; you do not want to wait until the last minute to request a passport for the child. You may also need a copy of your custody order or other documentation allowing the child to travel with one parent. Know the requirements of the airline, railway, cruise line, travel agency and any border crossing.
In conclusion, be sure to prepare in advance with travel with your child. If you have any questions about what is needed for travel or questions about if your co-parent’s proposed travel is appropriate, be sure to contact your custody lawyer.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.