The Child Custody Laws Relating to Traveling to Another State With Written Consent

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

The Child Custody Laws Relating to Traveling to Another State With Written Consent

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

If you were married when you had your child, you're used to being able to seize the opportunity to travel or move to another state without having to worry about anything other than logistics. After divorce, traveling with your minor child out of state isn't always as easy. Before doing so, you may need to get permission from the other parent or a judge.

Father and son sitting at an airport with a red suitcase pointing out the window

Traveling to Another State

Whether you need written permission depends on your custody and visitation orders. The orders may expressly require that you provide notice to or obtain the other parent's verbal or written permission before out of state travel. Or, the out of state travel might fall on a day that the other parent has visitation in which case you will need their permission to temporarily modify the schedule. Read the order carefully and follow whatever rules are set out within.

Even if you are not required to get written permission, it is almost always best to get it anyway. Written permission is proof of the other parent's consent, which could be helpful in subsequent court hearings or if, during the out-of-state trip, you are asked about your authority to travel. If the other parent does not know where their child is, they could report him missing. And if they become angry regarding the travel plans, they could seek modification of the custody order, which will force you to go back to court.

Moving to Another State

The laws vary by state but in most cases, if you are divorced, you must provide notice to the other party of the intended move. This is true even if you have sole custody, unless the other parent has passed away, had their parental rights taken from them, or there is some other exception given by the court.

Typically you must provide a certain number of days notice, for example, 30 days before the intended move. This gives them time to either agree to it, or alternately, oppose it. If they don't sign off on the move, then each of you will have to present your position to the judge who will determine whether or not to approve the request.

The judge will consider what is in the child's best interest, including things like whether the move is for a better job opportunity, how far it is, the interruption to the child's education and healthcare, and how much time they currently spend with each parent. This could take some time, as the judge understands the severity of the outcome. Once approved, a new parenting schedule and plan will take effect.

Requesting written permission from the other parent about an upcoming trip or move is probably not something you are looking forward to. However, it is in your best interest to do so to avoid potential legal implications down the line. Not complying with state law, court orders, or best practices could result in an unfavorable change in your child custody and visitation schedule or in the worst cases, criminal penalties.

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