We are emerging from a very dark year of travel restrictions, lockdowns, and missed family gatherings all due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The end of summer will mean that attention will quickly be turned to the holidays and to the rejoicing of finally getting to be with each other, which for many means traveling.
Traveling with minor children during and after a divorce or other custody proceeding can be tricky. Do not let the important details and existing court orders be forgotten in the haze of summer and exuberance about the 2021, post-pandemic holidays.
1. Don’t wait to create a holiday schedule. It’s never too early to schedule the holidays with the other parent and determine how to share time with your child so that your child can enjoy the holidays with both parents. Now, more than ever, children need stability and predictability but even more, they need hope, joy, and family this year. Work to ease any conflict early.
2. Don’t travel without permission: If you are in the midst of a family law proceeding involving minor children in California, you are automatically bound by the Standard Family Law Restraining Orders prohibiting either parent from removing the child from the state of California without a court order or written consent of the other parent. Best practice is to get permission from the other parent or the court before you spend money on travel plans.
3. Be Mindful of Any Travel Restrictions: Some destinations may have CDC or U.S. State Department travel advisories as a result of the pandemic. Be aware of the requirements and be prepared to comply. This could mean, for some destinations, being fully vaccinated, including children.
The key to a smooth holiday plan is early planning. If court assistance will be needed, do not leave these issues to the last minute. Best practice is to seek assistance 90 days in advance of travel to be best assured of obtaining a hearing date and court order. This is a “long and winding road”, so plan your travels early, safely, and well.