Traveling with your Children? Be Sure to Follow These Guidelines
When traveling with children after a child custody dispute, it is extremely important to follow proper protocol. Take the recent case of a Skokie man who allegedly left the country with his children without their mother’s knowledge.
Murtaza Ali, who according to federal authorities took his three children on an unauthorized trip to Istanbul on May 2, is facing federal kidnapping charges, with a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The details of this particular case are brazen; apparently, the mother wasn’t informed of the trip until after Ali and the children had arrived in Turkey. Yet it does shed light on an important issue in child custody: the need to adhere to the letter of the law whenever leaving with children for any period of time.
To help parents understand their rights to travel with their children, we’ve provided some general tips below.
Look to the Court Order
If custody has already been decided, your court order should already provide guidance. Most court orders will specifically address matters of out-of-state travel. Look specifically for any orders that prohibit leaving the state with your children. More commonly, the order may ask you to seek permission from the other parent before travel, or at least give specific notice. Regardless of whether this is a requirement in your case, it is always a good idea to seek permission in writing to avoid any possibility of conflict or legal action later.
Communicate With the Other Parent
To avoid any confusion or conflict, there is no substitute for regular communication with the other parent during travel. You may want to provide regular updates on your itinerary and any changes. This is a good idea regardless of your relationship with the other parent. If civil discussions over the phone are difficult, you can opt to use email or text communication.
If In Doubt, Seek Permission
A custody order that does not include a travel provision does not give you carte blanche to travel with your children at will. If there is even a shade of a doubt about your travel options, it is always best to seek written permission from the other parent to go forward with your plans. If this is not possible, you can go directly to the courts to seek approval.
Talk to an Experienced Child Custody Attorney
As demonstrated by the case above, traveling with children under a child custody order is nothing to be taken lightly. If you are unsure about your rights, or would like to secure the ability to travel freely in your current child custody matter, you need personalized help from a dedicated child custody lawyer.
At M. Scott Gordon & Associates, we help people in Chicago, Skokie/Northshore, and throughout the area manage a wide array of child custody and family law matters. For a free phone consultation with an experienced attorney, call our Chicago office at 312-360-0250 or our Skokie officer at 847-329-0101.