Making Travel Arrangements With Your Children After A Divorce
It’s true. When parents divorce, it really is harder on the kids, but it can be just a bit easier on the kids if the parents can cooperate, find some common ground, and remain flexible during and after the divorce.
For divorced parents, disputes can sometimes arise regarding travel plans and arrangements, and the ability of a parent to travel with his or her child may have some limits – particularly when it comes to traveling to another state or country.
Whenever a child will be traveling outside of his or her normal weekly routine – on a vacation with one parent, for example – both parents will need to familiarize themselves with the terms and conditions of their custody agreement, whether that agreement is voluntary or court-ordered.
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR CHILD AFTER A DIVORCE?
Before any travel plan for the child – outside of the weekly routine – can be finalized, the traveling parent must obtain the consent of the remaining parent. You cannot just drive, fly, or sail away with your child after a divorce unless you have the other parent’s permission.
In fact, a parent with the sole or primary custody of a child has the authority to deny the other parent any travel with the child outside of the specified terms and conditions of the custody order.
WHERE CAN PARENTS TURN FOR HELP?
A court-ordered or court-approved custody arrangement may or may not place precise travel restrictions on one or both parents. Sometimes, even years after a divorce, if there is a dispute over a particular trip or vacation, a parent is going to need a family lawyer’s help.
If you are a California parent on either side of a dispute regarding a child’s trip or vacation, or if you need to have your current child custody order modified by the court for any reason, you must consult with a family law attorney as quickly as possible.
If the travel plans are impending, you need to schedule that meeting right now.
WHAT IF THERE IS NO DISPUTE?
Of course, even when the parents are in full agreement about a travel plan for their child, if it’s a long-distance trip, a variety of considerations and arrangements will have to be made.
For instance, if the parents have joint custody, both will have to sign for a child’s passport and any other necessary legal documents.
When one parent is unable to grant consent to or obtain consent from the other parent for a long-distance or international trip, legal action may become imperative.
WHAT IS THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO?
This is important: If you believe that your child’s other parent may be attempting to take your child from the United States permanently, you must contact a California family attorney at once and take legal action immediately.
You cannot always stop someone who is determined to do something wrong. In the worst-case scenario, if your child is taken from the U.S. without your consent, speak at once to your police department, and retain an attorney who has experience with international custody disputes.
When any dispute arises with your ex regarding your child’s travel, you may need to consult an attorney to determine precisely what travel is allowed, what travel is restricted, what your legal rights and your ex-spouse’s legal rights are, and how the law applies to your specific situation.
WHAT MAKES A DIVORCE JUST A LITTLE EASIER ON EVERYONE INVOLVED?
It cannot be emphasized strongly enough: If both parents are flexible, if both are willing to negotiate with one another in good faith, and if they keep the lines of communication open, life is just a little bit easier after divorce for everyone who is involved – and especially a child.
If you request a modification of your current child custody order and your child’s other parent challenges your request, or if your child’s other parent seeks a modification of the custody order and you oppose that request, a judge may impose a resolution that is binding on both parents.
First, however, a California family court judge will provide the parents with a final chance to negotiate their own agreement by ordering mediation.
WHAT IS MEDIATION IN CALIFORNIA?
Mediation is a formal procedure designed to resolve potential legal disputes outside of the courtroom. A mediator’s role is not to suggest or impose a solution but rather to prod and encourage the parents to find common ground and to reach a resolution on their own.
If they are ordered to mediation, both parents should be willing to participate cooperatively, open-mindedly, and actively in the mediation sessions. Briefly, here is what happens in child custody mediations in California:
1. Parents meet the mediator.
2. Parents and the mediator identify the precise issues that are in dispute.
3. Parents and the mediator weigh the potential solutions.
4. If mediation succeeds, the judge will be asked to approve the agreement.
How long does mediation take? That is primarily up to the parents, but it can also depend on the complexities of the issues that the parents are facing. A willingness to listen and the ability to be flexible are imperative for a successful mediation.
WHAT IMPACT CAN TRAVEL HAVE ON A CHILD?
When it is at all possible, it is genuinely imperative for divorced parents to trust one another when it comes to their children. No parent really wants to deny a child the learning opportunities, the adventures, and the memories that are usually associated with long trips and vacations.
On the other hand, it is also absolutely essential to create stability in your child’s life and to reduce the disruptions that inevitably follow a divorce. Especially when a child is younger, frequent travel over long distances may not be conducive to a sense of security and stability.
HOW WILL A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY HELP?
After a divorce, if a dispute emerges regarding your child, do not hesitate to seek a family attorney’s advice and help.
Whether the issue in dispute is custody, visitation, travel, or child support, a parent in southern California may need the advice and representation that an experienced Orange County family law attorney can provide.
Nothing is more important than your child.
If you need legal help after a divorce regarding any matter that affects your child’s health, safety, or well-being, you must reach out for that help immediately – and put the law to work for you and for your child. That’s your right, and it’s the right thing to do.