Questions surrounding summer vacation start coming up frequently this time of year.  One of the big and more common questions that arise is the respective parents’ rights to take the kids out of state for summer vacation.  In short, can you take the kids out of state for summer vacation and if so, what is required to do so?

Is Permission Required to Take the Kids Out of State?

The short answer is yes, a parent must have permission to take a child out of state for summer vacation.  However, there are multiple circumstances that will affect the necessity of permission.  First, and foremost, the need for permission will depend upon the relationship of the parents.

Many parents are able to work things out without any conflict and certainly without resorting to the courts.  On some occasions, the parents will establish patterns of out of state vacation that they both come to rely on.  This can work for some parents.

However, even here, it is obviously necessary to let the parent know that you are taking the kids out of state.  If the parent refuses to allow it and there is nothing filed with the court on the matter, then that is where the problems can arise.  With the co-parenting parents above, this may never come up.  On the other hand, it can really throw a wrench into vacation plans for others.

The problems arise far more frequently with parents that do not get along. In these cases, not only is it necessary to get permission, the permission must be in the form of a Court Order.

The Parenting Plan

The parenting plan is extremely important for child custody situations.  It is important even where the parents get along well.  The parenting plan puts everything in writing so vacation time, along with every other important child custody matter, is clear to the parties and enforceable by the Court.

In the absence of a parenting plan or other court order addressing vacation, there is nothing for the court to enforce.  As such, one or both parents would have to file a motion with the court requesting a ruling on the out of state vacation.

In cases like this, it is very likely that neither parent will be happy.  It is equally likely that counselors, such as Court Clinic clinicians, will get involved to determine the best interests of the child(ren).  It is almost certain that the judge will have as thorough of a parenting plan possible to avoid disputes and returning to court in the future.

What is not as certain is that the parties will get any ruling or progress on the current motion to allow a parent to take the child(ren) out of state.  Instead, it may very well be that the can gets kicked up the road and everyone suffers, most of all the child(ren).

Long Process and Significant Delays in Getting Court Hearing on Child Custody Matters so Start Early

If this is an issue, you need to start early.  Early in the case of any kind of child custody case, including summer vacation issues, means many months in advance.  Many months ideally means sometime before March.

These can take a very long time.  It can takes months to even see the judge.  Once in court, the judge may very well order counselors to do a child custody evaluation.  This in turn requires many more months.  Delays can ruin your vacation plans with your child(ren) while also generating a lot of hostility between the parents setting the stage for the next big battle.

If you do not have a plan in place and/or the other parent will not agree to your plans, you need to file a Motion to Establish Summer Time-Sharing or something to that effect.   If it is late in the game, and summer is fast approaching, you need to request a hearing right away.

You can, as many do, call it an “Emergency Motion” but emergency means something significantly more serious than these type issues in family court.  Delay in filing can mean that your situation will not get addressed in time for your vacation plans.

Collins & Collins, P.C. has significant experience with child custody, parenting plans and vacation conflicts.  We can be reached at (505) 242-5958 .