After a couple of years of isolation, you might be itching for a vacation. This can also be the perfect way to bond with your children after a divorce and create new memories. However, like many things, divorce can make the process of planning a vacation more difficult. You need to know the rules to avoid possible problems, as well as your rights. If you run into trouble, contact the Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer for help and advice based on your unique situation.
The Divorce Decree Rules
Before you take a trip with your children, be sure you carefully review your marriage dissolution decree and other related documents. These documents may provide rules and procedures regarding travel with your children, such as:
- Mileage restrictions as to how far you can travel with the children
- Date restrictions that limit how long you can travel with your children
- Prohibitions against traveling out of state or out of the country
- Requirements regarding giving advance notice to your ex before traveling
- Whether you need permission from your spouse before traveling with your children
- Requirements regarding contact information while traveling with your children
Planning with Your Ex
One of the ways to make the vacation as smooth as possible is to plan with your ex. Start the process well before the projected time for the vacation so that it does not come as a surprise. Open communication is key to make the plan a success.
Out of the Country Considerations
If you are planning on traveling outside the country, there will be additional requirements you must meet. You must still comply with the terms of your divorce decree, which may indicate whether or not international travel is agreeable and the steps you must take before leaving the country. If your divorce decree does not mention international travel and your spouse does not approve of the travel, you may have to seek permission of the court before you can take an international trip with your children.
Additionally, you must comply with the U.S. Department of State requirements for getting a passport for your child, which are different depending on their age:
- Children under 16 – Generally, both parents must be present in person when the child applies for their passport. If this is not possible, you will have to provide proof that you have sole legal authority or the other parent’s permission by having them complete Form DS-3053 and sign in front of a notary public.
- 16- and 17-year-old children – For a 16- or 17-year-old, the easiest way to get a passport is to have the custodial parent go with the child who is applying for a passport. This will help show parental awareness and make the process go more smoothly. However, only one parent needs to be present.
Practical Tips to Make the Vacation a Success
Fortunately, there are some proactive steps that you can take to make the vacation a success, including:
- Begin early – You don’t want to catch your ex off guard, especially if the divorce is recent. Start the planning process early. This can help you identify any potential issues and give you time to take appropriate legal action, if necessary.
- Start small – A co-parent is more likely to approve a trip that is closer geographically and less time than a long trip abroad. Start small on your vacation planning and build up to longer and further away trips for the future.
- Make a plan – Try to avoid misunderstandings by making a written plan. Provide a detailed itinerary regarding where you will be going, when you plan to arrive, and other important details. You can also create a written plan with your ex that includes information about how they can check in with the children and that states they are aware of and approve the travel.
- Provide details – Give your ex contact information for where you will be staying and how they can reach the children.
How an Experienced New Jersey Family Lawyer Can Help
If you’d like to take a vacation with your children but are facing resistance from the other parent, you may need the help of an experienced family lawyer and mediator. A lawyer may be able to help negotiate a plan, file a court action, or mediate a resolution to help resolve the matter. For more information, contact the Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer. We provide confidential consultations to review your case and explain how we can help.