Holiday Travel Often Leads to Child Custody and Time-Sharing Disputes

Travel during the holidays with children in a split child custody and time-sharing situation can be complicated. Holiday travel planning can cause serious conflict between the parents. It often ends in court.
Travel during the holidays with children in a split child custody and time-sharing situation can cause conflict often ending in court.

Travel with the children can, in the absence of a parenting plan that deals with the issue of travel, cause conflict between the parents.  The potential for conflict associated with travel with the children is especially high during the holidays.

There are a number of things to keep in mind in planning for your holiday travel.  The key here is actual planning.  This should begin long before the holiday season begins to be on the safe side.

Delays in addressing the issue can result in a disruption in your holiday travel plans.  Once the holidays arrive, emotions are high, the courts are packed, and timing is just not on your side. It may be that you do not get to see a judge to resolved the issues until well after the holidays which hardly does you any good.

If you are in a situation where holiday travel needs to be addressed, the Albuquerque divorce and family law attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. have significant child custody and time-sharing experience including issues related to travel.  We can be reached at (505) 242-5958.

A Comprehensive Parenting Plan is Key

A good parenting plan should address every possible issue that might come up with child custody. This includes holiday schedules and holiday travel.

The parenting plan is extremely important in cases involving split child custody and time-sharing.  It is very important to have a comprehensive plan in place.  This means putting everything down in writing and filing the parenting plan with the court.

If it is not in writing, you can bet that disputes will arise.  In fact, even when it is in writing disputes may arise. This may result from good faith differences of interpretation.  Or it may result from less innocent motives.  However, if the parenting plan is thorough and well written, then it should be rather easy for the court to make a determination.

Holiday Travel Often Neglected in Parenting Plan

Parenting plans often fall short on details. One area that is often neglected is holiday time-sharing and along with it holiday travel.

Unfortunately, parenting plans are often less than thorough. Holiday time-sharing is often neglected completely.  Even where holiday time-sharing is addressed, holiday travel often is not.  As such, when one or both of the parties is so inclined, the omission can lead to significant conflict.

This lack of specificity in the parenting plan regarding holiday travel can completely derail a parent’s plans for the holidays.   This can occur with in-state, out of state and international travel.

Long distance travel with extended stays can lead to objection by the other parent in the absence of provisions addressing it.  In-state travel does not typically present as much of a problem for most parents.  However, crossing of borders, even just a little, can fuel the emotional flames during the holidays.

International travel does the same.  Unlike in-state or interstate travel, international travel is basically not possible without an order from the court.  This means that it must be addressed in a parenting plan or some other order clearly addressing international travel and dates of travel.

This is not a hyperbole.  Airport personnel, unless they are grossly negligent in their duties, will not allow a child to board an international flight without court authorization.

Start Early and Get an Order in Place

Getting a hearing during the holidays is no easy task. Start early or risk not seeing a judge until well after the holidays.

If you do not have a parenting plan or other custody order addressing holiday travel, you should get started early.  This typically means months in advance of travel.  Time runs short during the holidays.

If you have an agreement in place, whether oral or written, and the other party is threatening interference, then you should get to court right away.  The problem is that the family law courts are full during the holidays due to the many child custody related disputes that arise.

Getting a court hearing may not be easy or even possible depending upon the court, the judge and the issues at hand.  Starting early is the key to avoiding holiday travel disruptions.