Custody & Travel: What You Need to Know

In News by YKF Law

Now that the school year is almost over (how is it possible?), you more than likely have summer vacations booked or planned. Are you planning on traveling locally or within the state? Are you planning on traveling to a different state? Are you planning a vacation abroad? Whatever trip you have this summer, it takes a lot of planning and research to get everything squared away: lodging, excursions, family-friendly activities, travel plans, arranging someone to watch the pets, etc.

When you’re a co-parent and share physical custody with your child’s other parent, it’s not as easy to get up and go on vacation when you please. When you divorced and proceeded with establishing child custody, you created a parenting plan. This legal document outlines how much time the children spend with each parent, including vacation.

Custody and travel have their own set of rules that you’ll want to follow before booking a trip. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about custody and travel so you can get your summer plans and future vacations planned and booked!

Refer to Your Parenting Plan

If you co-parent, you likely have a parenting plan in place. If you’re unfamiliar with one, a parenting plan outlines the responsibilities as parents and schedules for time with the children, holiday plans, travel, etc. Missouri courts require custody cases to have a parenting plan that includes how each party will share parental rights.

Parenting plans cover many things, travel included. They can be specific, outlining the dates the parents will have the children for specific holidays or school vacations like spring break or summer breaks. From there, you can create a travel plan. It can include who pays for airline tickets, whether or not the child can leave the state or country, and other details that outline vacation specifics. 

If you don’t have a parenting plan and are working with your co-parent to establish guidelines, consider talking to a family law attorney who can help you establish a legal parenting plan. It’s much easier to successfully co-parent when there are rules and guidelines in place for how to raise your children together.

Share All Travel Plans with Your Co-Parent

If you and your child’s other parent have already agreed the child can travel, whoever is taking the child on vacation needs to share all travel plans with the other parent. Though you’ve already shared where you’ll be taking your child and the dates, they should be aware of specifics should an emergency arise.

Share all travel plans with your co-parent, like lodging details, activities you have planned on certain days, if you plan on traveling to another area within where you’re vacationing, flight details, etc. Sharing all travel plans puts the other at ease knowing even though they won’t be on the trip, they’ll have details on where their child will be and what they’ll be doing.

Avoid Conflict

Sharing physical and legal custody with another parent can be challenging. Even if you’re on good terms, life happens, and you can’t always agree with your ex on everything. Having great and open communication with your co-parent will make co-parenting easier, and that includes avoiding conflict.

If you don’t agree with their travel plans or if they have issues with yours, avoid conflict as best you can. Try to communicate your issues with them in a calm manner, being sure not to show frustration as you explain your concerns. Likewise, they should express their concerns in a respectful way to avoid conflict. Having excellent communication in your co-parenting relationship does wonders for the both of you and your children.

Don’t Violate the Parenting Plan

The most important thing you need to know about custody and travel is not to violate the parenting plan. A custody case includes a parenting plan approved by the court, so be sure to follow it to avoid the court taking action against you. Violating a parenting plan is very serious and has some severe consequences.

Violating the parenting plan for travel can include the following: extending vacation without informing the other parent, failing to swap with the other parent when you said you would, failing to provide the other parent with details about the vacation, etc. If you violate the parenting plan, you can be in contempt of court with mandatory fines to pay or arrested, depending on the violation. Contact a family law lawyer if you have an established parenting plan and have questions or concerns about what you can and can’t do. They can explain the specifics and what may be a violation so you can avoid any issues.

Summertime is a time of travel, taking vacations with your children and making memories that will last them a lifetime. You can plan a great trip this summer if you refer to and follow your parenting plan, share all travel plans with your co-parent, avoid conflict, and don’t violate the parenting plan. All of us at the Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC wish you safe travels!

If you need help establishing a parenting plan or modifying an existing parenting plan, or child custody, the Law Office of Young, Kuhl & Frick, LLC can help. We’re dedicated to the practice of family law and can help guide you through the entire process. Our office is in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. In addition to our physical location, our firm’s family and divorce attorneys have practiced in Jackson, Clay, Cass, Lafayette, and Platte County, Missouri. Contact our family law firm today to schedule a consultation – we can meet in person or via Zoom.

With over fifty-three years of combined legal experience, our family law firm is comprised of a team skilled in negotiation and litigation, handling family law matters from the most complex to the most straightforward. Our zealous team of attorneys will handle your case with expert knowledge and professionalism.