Do I Need Permission to Take My Kids on Vacation?
By: M. Scott Gordon
When parents are going through a divorce, or when the divorce is newly finalized, they often have questions or concerns about their rights as parents when it comes to issues like traveling with the children. Indeed, many parents ask the question: Do I need permission to take my kids on vacation? While the answer to this question might seem like it should be a straightforward one, it is actually more complicated, depending upon the facts of your case and your family situation.
Do You Have a Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment and Does It Address Vacations?
If your divorce has been finalized and you have a parenting plan or allocation judgment in place under Illinois law, chances are good that it addresses issues like vacations and what each parent’s responsibilities are when it comes to spending time with children on holidays. Given the intentional flexibility of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) when it comes to the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time, different families may deal with the question of vacations differently.
For example, one family might have a parenting plan in place that allows a parent to travel freely within Illinois or the U.S. during that parent’s parenting time. That same agreement might indicate the parent planning the vacation will inform the other parent if the plans involve international travel. Another family might have an allocation judgment that stipulates parents can only take the children on vacation within a specific mileage range from their resident (e.g., 100 miles), although this is not typical although some parents may agree to this limitation. Accordingly, you should refer to your parenting plan or allocation judgment when deciding whether you need permission to take your kids on vacation.
Getting a Temporary Order Allocating Parental Responsibilities
Even if your divorce is not yet finalized, or if you are in the early stages of planning for divorce, you can seek a “temporary allocation of parental responsibilities in the child’s best interests before the entry of a final allocation judgment,” according to the IMDMA. Whether you need to go before the court or have agreed to temporary terms with the other parent, you can address issues like vacations in the temporary order – if the vacation is likely to occur before the divorce is finalized.
When You Do Not Have a Court Order in Place
The short answer is having the other parent’s permission to take the kids on a vacation typically always is easier than doing so without permission. However, even if you do not have an order in place, a vacation in which you do not plan to leave the state of Illinois is less likely to present a problem.
If you are in the middle of a divorce, or are recently separated and have minor children from the marriage, if you do not have a court order in place—including even a temporary order—then you should seek permission to take the kids on vacation. If you are engaged in a contentious custody battle or are anticipating one, if you leave on a trip with your kids, the other parent might try to argue you are attempting to relocate out of state with the children or hide them. To protect yourself, even if you ask the other parent and he/she agrees, you should get that agreement in writing.
Learn More from a Chicago Family Law Attorney
Given that parental responsibilities can be complicated, even after the court issues an allocation judgment or the parents have a parenting plan approved, it is not surprising parents in the middle of a divorce process have questions about their rights and obligations with regard to their kids. If you have questions about parenting time, an experienced Chicago family lawyer can help you. Contact M. Scott Gordon & Associates to speak with an advocate today.