Now that summer vacation is here, we often get calls from divorced parents asking about taking their kids on vacation. Some common questions involve traveling out of state, and what type of permission is needed. The first thing to consider is the language of the Court Order you have concerning custody arrangements.
If there is a provision about vacationing with the children, it probably applies to both parents, no matter if there is shared custody or if someone has primary. Typically, if there is a clause about vacations, it will contain some sort of limitations or notice requirement. For example, a Court Order may require any parent who is taking a child on a vacation out of state to give notice to or get permission from the other party. If one parent wants to take a child on an out-of-state vacation and the other parent will not give permission, then the parties may have to petition the court to settle the matter.
Sometimes, there is no clause regarding vacations for the child. If the Court Order is silent, then either parent may legally take the child out of state on vacation, but must return before the normal custodial period is over. For example, if a parent only has the child on weekends, then an out-of-state vacation is almost impossible. However, if both parents agree, the child may be allowed to go on an extended vacation with the non-custodial parent. If not, the non-custodial parent could present a custody modification to the court asking for an extended time with the child in the summer. For example, the non-custodial parent may ask to have custody for two weeks straight at some point in the summer so he or she could take the child on a long vacation.
Typically, there will only be a clause regarding vacations in a Court Order if one parent asks for it, or if there is a fear that a parent will take off with the child and not return. Of course, if this happens, a contempt action can be filed in court and the police should be notified so they may help to return the child.
If you have any questions about your custody order, or about taking your child on vacation, please feel free to contact one of our PA custody lawyers at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates.