You’ve researched hotels, booked sightseeing tours, found the best kid-friendly restaurants, and packed your bags. Almost everything is in order for a great trip with your child. But do you need to add “get ex’s permission to travel out-of-state” to your vacation to-do list? Can your co-parent veto your trip? These are questions that parents frequently ask a custody attorney in Salt Lake. Let’s examine the intricacies of traveling out of state with your child if you live in Utah.
Can my ex prevent me from traveling out of state with our child?
Probably not. The specifics of your custody agreement matter and must be followed. But nothing in Utah law prevents one parent from traveling with their child when they have custody or visitation time. Unless your agreement says otherwise, you are likely free to travel for vacations. If you are unsure of the conditions of your specific custody arrangement, seek legal advice from your attorney before you purchase those plane tickets.
Assuming your custody agreement allows travel, Utah law is on your side. Your co-parent cannot prevent you from enjoying an out-of-state trip with your child. Their specific consent, written or verbal, is not required. One parent cannot dictate the other parent’s travel and vacation plans by simply withholding consent.
What information do I need to provide to my child’s other parent?
Once again, if your custody agreement has more stringent requirements, you must follow those. Otherwise, Utah law requires you to provide this information to your child’s other parent:
- Your destination and itinerary information
- Your travel dates
- A list of places you plan to visit
- Information about your accommodations
- Contact information for a third party expected to be available and aware of the child’s location
If the trip you have in mind is to Disney World, this might mean emailing your ex and letting them know that you will be traveling to Orlando, Florida, from June 15th to June 23rd, and staying at Mickey’s Motel. You would include an itinerary with the days you will be at specific parks and the contact information for your travel agent, who knows your travel details. If your relationship with the co-parent makes this reasonable and appropriate, they should also have your contact information.
Does it matter how long the trip is?
We will answer this first with a couple of questions of our own: How long is the trip? Will your travel create an extended absence between your child and their other parent?
There is a difference between going to Disney World for a week or going to stay with your parents in Florida for three months.
Under Section 30-3-36(2) of Utah law, it is the responsibility of each parent to consider the adverse effects that extended absence from the other parent may have on the child and their bond with the other parent.
If your trip is long enough to disrupt the bond between your child and the co-parent, it’s probably a no-go unless the other parent gives the okay. If you have a specific reason that requires lengthy travel with your child, consult your family law divorce attorney immediately so they can help you work through the particulars.
What if my ex tries to prevent me from traveling with our child?
If your trip is in line with Utah law and your custody agreement and will occur when you have physical custody or visitation, there’s little the co-parent can do to prevent the trip. One thing your ex could do to stop your travel is refuse to let you pick up your child from their house to go on vacation.
In many ways, this situation is the same as if your ex refused to give you your custody or visitation, even if you weren’t traveling. You have a legal right to be with your child during that time. Whether you are going on an out-of-state trip or not, withholding access to your child isn’t okay, and it is time to involve your lawyer and the court system.
Your option when the other parent refuses to hand over custody–for a trip or a random Saturday– is to have your attorney file a motion for a writ of assistance. That is a request for the court to issue an order to the other parent to hand off custody to you during your legally allowed time. With this writ, you can request that local law enforcement enforce the court’s ruling. They can physically force the other parent to let you take your child. However, this takes time and can be difficult for all parties involved, including your child. Do your best to avoid this situation.
So that’s it? I can book my trip?
Utah law is clear that a parent does not need the other parent’s consent to travel across state lines with their child. During your time with your child, you can travel the country as you see fit, within reason, and as long as you provide the co-parent with the required details about your itinerary. However, you must understand your custody agreement to ensure no additional limitations or stipulations exist. When in doubt, consult a lawyer for visitation rights in Salt Lake, Davis, or Weber County to ensure you stay within the law and your custody agreement’s terms.