Most school districts schedule two (2) vacation weeks in the second half of the school year, “winter recess,” which is typically scheduled the week following Presidents’ Day in February, and “spring recess” which is typically scheduled in March or April, the week before or after Easter, depending on Passover. These weeks are some of the busiest days of the year for family vacations.
If you are going through a divorce or custody case, a vacation probably sounds like a welcome escape. Most of the time, you can still travel with your children, but there are some very important conditions. Initially, if you have a Court order limiting your contact with your children, (order of protection or supervision) or if you have a Court order or agreement restricting travel, those terms control.
Generally, the Courts look upon traveling with your children favorably. Vacations are not just fun, but enriching cultural experiences. However, this does not mean that you can go anywhere, at any time. Age of the children, distance of travel, duration of travel, and time off from school can be limiting factors.
Further, before you book a trip, you must first inform the other parent (either directly or through your attorney, depending on what is appropriate in your case) what days you wish to travel and where you want to go. Before the trip, you must also provide a full written itinerary including flight details, hotel information, and contact information (cell and landline). A good base line for the amount of information you provide is, “what would I want to know?”
International travel poses an even greater set of issues that must be addressed prior to allowing children to travel. For example, obtaining a passport for a child is a different procedure than for adults. Many airlines require written consent from the non-traveling parent before allowing a child to travel. The country of destination may or may not be a signatory to the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention.
An experienced family law attorney can assist you in navigating these travel-related issues so that you can relax and enjoy that much-needed vacation.