Do You Need Your Co-parent’s Approval to Take Your Kids on Vacation This Summer?

One of the topics that divorcing parents who are sharing custody typically need to address in their custody agreement and parenting plan is whether or not they can take their children out of the state and, if so, whether permission is required from the other parent. Some parents prefer to place a mileage limit instead of a state border limit. Others believe they have an amicable enough relationship and good enough communication that they don’t need to codify any limits on a parent’s travel with their children. 

If you’re still in the process of negotiating your various divorce and custody agreements, however, how do you make summer vacation plans – particularly if you’d like to take the kids outside of North Carolina?

It’s always better to seek and get written permission from your co-parent, even if you don’t have any restrictions in place yet or your custody agreement doesn’t require it. This way you’re covered just in case your co-parent decides they feel differently about your vacation plans than they did when you first mentioned them.

What is a child travel consent letter?

Your attorney can help you draw up a child travel consent letter for your co-parent and you to sign. In these letters, you typically outline your itinerary, how you’ll be traveling, where you’ll be staying, and who else (if anyone) will be along on the trip. It’s usually best if you both sign the document in front of a notary republic.

Take a copy of this letter with you on your trip. It’s also a good idea to have copies of your kids’ birth certificates with you. If you have a different last name than your children do, documentation of your relationship is especially important. You may need something besides a lot of family photos on your phone to prove that you’re their parent.

What if your co-parent won’t agree to your vacation plans?

If there’s not a custody agreement in place yet, it might be tempting to go ahead with your plans. That can be a big mistake. If your custody agreement requires permission for the travel you want to do, it can be an even bigger mistake. 

If you and your co-parent can’t reach an agreement on vacation plans, talk with your family law attorney. Kids should be able to enjoy their time off school – not be stressed out that every school break will bring conflict for their parents.

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