Summer is fast approaching and many Pennsylvania families are already making plans for vacations. In fact, those renting beach houses or planning trips out of the country typically make reservations and create their itineraries well in advance of the scheduled dates of their vacations. For some, this year’s summer vacation will be different from all the rest since it’s the first time they’ll go away with their children following a divorce.
If you’re one of many parents adapting to a new lifestyle after divorce, you may be wondering about rules concerning summer excursions. Can you take one any time you like? Do you need your former spouse’s approval or the court’s permission to take your children with you on a trip? These types of questions are common for newly divorced parents.
What the law says regarding child custody and vacations
The court is usually of the opinion that children fare best when provided ample time with both parents following divorce. When plans include summer vacations, it may help to keep the following in mind:
- U.S. family law statutes often contain provisions that govern vacationing with minor children when child custody or visitation agreements exist.
- Such provisions protect both the children’s best interests and parental rights.
- If there’s no existing agreement between parents, the court determines the type of restrictions that may be set forth, including whether a parent can take a child out of the court’s jurisdiction without the other parent’s permission and a written order from the court allowing such travel.
- Some people mistakenly believe a custodial parent may take a child anywhere at any time without permission, although this is not so. It’s also not automatically true that a non-custodial parent can never take a child away on vacation.
- The court rules on situations where no parental agreements exist on case-by-case bases.
- Most often, the court requires the parent planning to take a child (or children) on vacation to provide reasonable notice to the other parent.
If you take your children on a special trip following your divorce, you may be required to provide your former spouse with a copy of your itinerary. You will likely also have to ensure some means of communication between your children and the other parent while you’re away. The court typically considers these provisions necessary in case an emergency occurs. Some people turn to attorneys for help when problems concerning such provisions arise.
Your summer vacation schedule may somehow interfere with an existing visitation agreement. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t take your kids on vacation, but it may require negotiating a plan for substitute visitation time with the other parent. Summer vacation should obviously be a joyous occasion. Disputes regarding child custody and visitation can threaten a good vacation with negative memories. An experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney can help overcome any obstacles regarding the divorce that get in the way of fun-in-the-sun plans with your children.
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