With spring break around the corner, families often begin to brainstorm ideas of fun ways to get the kids out of town for an adventure. Whether it be taking the kids to visit their grandparents out of state, or packing up and going on an international trip, making memories with your children during their week off of school is an exciting time of year. That being said, the shift of taking on spring break alone as a newly divorced parent can be quite the adjustment, but is absolutely do-able.
It’s important that you understand your custody agreement, and all agreed-upon provisions, before taking off with your children. Doing so without being aware of the written guidelines, or without proper communication between you and your ex, can lead to serious consequences. Before you and the kids pack your bags and head out for paradise, keep these four things in mind:
Review your Judgment Before Making any Plans
If you’ve finished up all divorce proceedings, your final Judgment should have all necessary provisions for how to handle travel plans that you and your ex agreed upon. Most of these requirements will include things such as: how far in advance you need to give your ex notice of your travel plans, expectations for providing travel itineraries, and provisions for any school days that can be missed, how communication will occur via your ex and the child, and who will pay for certain travel aspects. Ideally, any questions that arise will have been addressed in the judgment beforehand. It’s always a good idea to over-plan, over-communicate and do all of your research, especially for your first trip away, before solidifying plans.
Obtain Necessary Documents
If you’re planning an out of country trip, both you and your child will need passports. While obtaining your own passport is a solo decision, if your child is under the age of 16 and you don’t have sole custody, both parents will need to provide consent for it to be issued, which is best done if both parents accompany the child to the appointment. If one parent is unable to attend, they can issue their written authorization, but it must first be notarized. If one parent is unwilling to consent, creating a roadblock in travel plans, a court order will need to be filed to challenge the opposition. A great perk about passports is that they provide stamped proof of where your child has gone, should your ex express any doubts or concerns.
Travel with Backup Copies
Being over-prepared when traveling with children is never a bad idea, which is why we recommend carrying backup copies of any documents that might be requested along the way. For example, the Transportation Security Administration is authorized to ask for proof of parentage from any person traveling with a minor child. While it’s rare, it’s wise to travel with paper copies of passports, the child’s birth certificate and the Divorce Judgment just in case.
Over-Communicate with your Ex
We understand that your ex might be the last person you want to work with, especially if you’re fresh out of a lengthy divorce proceeding. With children, however, creating effective co-parenting strategies and habits is in the best interest of the entire family. Be mindful of whether your trip will interfere with your ex’s parenting time. If it will, perhaps offer to switch days or offer a solution that will make up for that time. Give them advanced notice, and be equally gracious with their aspiring vacations when the time comes. Remember that vacations are meant to be fun, and those memories are good for your children. To the best of your ability, don’t allow jealousy or pettiness to get in the way of your kids experiencing those moments.
Traveling with kids as a newly divorced parents may pose a few learning curves, but with awareness of your judgement, proper planning and effective communication, you and your loved ones can absolutely still get away and create those lasting memories.