If you’re separated but haven’t begun the divorce process, you and your co-parent may not have discussed in detail how far each of you can travel with your kids. That’s something you’ll need to codify as part of your custody agreement and parenting plan.
What kind of restrictions you have will depend on your family needs. Some couples designate a particular number of miles they can travel without their co-parent’s written consent. Others limit this required permission to out-of-state and foreign travel.
If you are planning to travel with your child at some point over the next few months to spend the holidays with family or maybe to go skiing over their winter break, it’s crucial to keep your co-parent informed. If you already have an agreement in place that addresses travel, you both need to adhere to that.
Even if you’re adhering to that agreement and you’re traveling with your child during your parenting time, it’s always wise to have a travel consent letter or similar document signed by you and your co-parent. If your co-parent is consenting to the travel outside of a standing agreement, it’s prudent to have a notary public witness the signing.
What to include in a travel consent letter
The more information you provide your co-parent, the more secure they’ll feel about the travel. This includes your itinerary, where you’ll be staying, any other adults who will be traveling with you and contact information beyond your cellphone number (like relatives’ or friends’ phone numbers if you’re staying with them).
You should also determine how often your child can communicate with their co-parent while you’re gone. For example, you might agree on a FaceTime call at the end of every day.
Keep plenty of documentation handy
Bring the letter, along with a copy of your child’s birth certificate and any other legal documents you have, such as the custody order. Even if you don’t anticipate the worst, like your co-parent accusing you of kidnapping, it never hurts to have documentation available – particularly when you can just scan it into your phone.
If you’re having difficulty getting your co-parent to agree to your travel outside of a custody agreement or just to get some help drawing up a valid travel consent letter, it’s best to get legal guidance.