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Can I travel with my child after divorce?

Whether thinking of a local trip to Disneyland, Yosemite National Park or to a nearby favorite beach the prosect of a trip after a divorce may leave you wondering whether you are allowed to travel with your children. As a recent article in the New York Times notes, traveling without the other parent can be difficult even when there is not a divorce involved. Officials are cracking down on child trafficking, meaning Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials may stop an individual traveling solo with children and ask questions to establish the relationship and reduce the risk of wrongdoing. Add in a divorce and custody orders and attempts to travel with your child can quickly become complicated.

Although the exact answer about traveling with your child will vary depending on the circumstances, the following information can provide some general guidance to begin the conversation.

Can I take a trip with my kids?

In many cases, travel within the state is allowed. It may be wise to discuss the travel with the other parent, particularly if the travel dates conflict with the other parent’s visitation time.

What about out of state or another country?

Those who are looking at traveling to another state or country will likely have some additional requirements before they can take the trip. This is true whether looking to go visit family or simply take the children on a vacation. This could include official paperwork like a consent to travel form.

What if there are limitations on my custody order?

There are cases where the custody order may include limitation on whether or not you can travel outside of the state or country with the children. It may be possible to get a court order providing special permission to travel if you wish to travel and such limitations are an issue. In these cases, it is wise to have the order in writing and include the dates and travel location. Take a copy of the order with you on your trip in case there is an issue.

What if I travel without getting permission or a court order?

The other parent may claim that you are in violation of the custody order. The other parent may call the police and ask them to enforce the order and could file a contempt of court. If successful, you could face serious consequences potentially including jail time.

It is important for those who find themselves asking these questions to review their divorce documents and make sure they are following the agreed upon parenting plan. An attorney experienced in this area of family law can review your situation and discuss your options.