Traveling With a Minor in the U.S.: What Co-Parents Need to Do

As the holidays approach, you may be planning to take your minor child or children to visit relatives who live out of state. If you share custody, there are a few things you will need to consider.

Review Your Parenting Plan

When planning any trip with a minor child, this is a smart place to start, advises the co-parenting site Our Family Wizard. Look for any stipulations pertaining to traveling, including:

  • Does the parenting plan specify that co-parents will alternate major holidays and Winter Break? This is a common stipulation. Your former spouse may be willing to swap, but you’ll need to ask what the trade-off would be.
  • Will you need written permission to take your child or children out of state? When parents share decision-making authority, each has a right to resist major decisions concerning the minor child, and that includes traveling to another state. Having written permission is a good idea, even if it’s not legally necessary.

The best practice in all cases is to obtain signed consent from the other parent for all travel plans. Even if not expressly required by your parenting agreement, and even if your former spouse has verbally consented, having the agreement in writing can help to avoid misunderstandings.

Discuss With Your Former Spouse

What questions and concerns do they have about the trip itself?

Will any of the travel dates impact their regularly scheduled parenting time? If your travel plans reduce the agreed-on number of days they will have with their child, it’s also wise to put in writing how the time will be made up and rebalanced.

What if the other parent won’t agree? If you feel the trip is vitally important, discuss options with your attorney. Otherwise, try to think long-term. It may be better to plan a trip that falls within your scheduled parenting time than to press the issue to the point that it creates or renews major conflict between you and your ex.

Document Your Plans

For travel within the U.S., children under 18 do not need a passport or other identification. You and your co-parent, however, will want to document:

  • Your travel schedule
  • Names of anyone traveling with you
  • Methods of transportation
  • Where you’ll be staying
  • Any other details about where your kids will be throughout your trip
  • Thoroughly review this information with your former spouse before the trip and make sure it is accessible while you’re away and after you return.

Finally, look forward to having a fun adventure traveling with your kids. Spending time and having new experiences together create memories that will last forever.

With a combined 30 years in family law, the attorneys at Jones Family Law Group, LLC, will provide the legal guidance you need. For questions or to schedule a confidential consultation, contact our team today.