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Consider These Custody Tips Before Booking Your Family Vacation

A vacation can be a great way to distract kids from the emotional turmoil that often accompanies divorce. But before you book an out-of-state flight and put down a deposit on a hotel, double check your child custody order and consider calling your lawyer.

If you are already divorced and have primary or sole custody, you can cross state borders and even travel out of the country if your child custody order does not prohibit such trips. However, there may be procedural requirements. Your child custody order may specify which parent may apply for and possess your children’s passports. In addition, Texas child custody orders often specify how the non-traveling parent should be notified about travel plans and the details to be included, such as dates, departure times and destinations.

If you are in the middle of a divorce, and particularly if custody is contested, you will have to overcome some restrictions before you can leave the state or travel abroad with your children. Federal law prohibits parents (divorced or not) from applying for passports for children under the age of 16 unless both parents are present or one parent can show proof of sole custody. Even with a passport, the traveling parent must have written, notarized permission to take children out of the country.

In Texas, the noncustodial parent is entitled to 30 days with children over the summer (42 days if the parent lives more than 100 miles from their children). Some of that time may be on vacation away from home.

Whether or not your divorce is finalized and regardless of the custody arrangements made, your best rule of thumb when making travel plans is to communicate with your children’s other parent. If you clear travel dates with the other parent, have them give their consent in writing to avoid any claims that you didn’t notify them of your plans. Avoid making plans during the other parent’s visitation time unless they have given you their consent in writing.

Good communication with your child’s parent and double checking the terms of your custody order are the keys to successful vacation planning during and after a divorce. When in doubt, seeking advice from a family law attorney with experience handling child custody cases can help you overcome hurdles, perhaps even helping you arrange a last-minute vacation.

If you are seeking a divorce or dealing with a custody dispute in the Houston area, Robert Reid McInvale, Attorney at Law, can help. To set up a free consultation, call us at 866-959-7824 or contact us online.

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Robert Reid McInvale
Attorney at Law

Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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