Can I Travel With My Child Out Of State in a Divorce?

If you are fortunate to be able to take your child on a vacation during a divorce, do you need permission from the other parent? What about after the divorce? The short answer is that, in Wisconsin, you can take your child out of state on vacation without permission from the other parent.  There is a common misconception that you need permission from the other parent for a vacation.

However, if by doing so, the other parent will not have his or her scheduled placement, that is a different situation.  Most of the time, there will be a court order which allows at least a week or two of vacation.  If there is a court order, providing that you give notice, you are allowed to take vacation regardless if the other parent agrees or not.  However, sometimes during the pendency of the divorce, there may not be a temporary order which allows a vacation.  If there is no court order, you would either need permission from the other parent to forego their regular placement or you would need to take your vacation over your own placement periods.

You should make sure there is a vacation provision in your final judgment of divorce.  As long as there is a court order, the other parent does not have the right to restrict or veto your vacation.  The only condition would be that they should know where their child(ren) are going to be and have contact information in case of an emergency.

The only exception to the above is if you are traveling out of the country.  Federal law mandates that either both parents must be present or, if only one parent is present, written consent is necessary from the other parent or from the court. If the other parent refuses to cooperate and give permission, you can file a motion with the court requesting that the court enter an order allowing the travel.

I sometimes have clients who are the non-traveling parent and want to withhold consent for whatever reason.  I tell them to keep in mind that they are only hurting the child(ren) by denying them the opportunity for a vacation.  A few missed days of placement is well worth the benefit to the child.  And, it may benefit you in the future if you want to take your own vacation.

-Teri M Nelson

2 thoughts on “Can I Travel With My Child Out Of State in a Divorce?

  1. The mother of my son has requested to take my son to Puerto Rico for 6 months as a vacation. I do not feel comfortable with this and I have voiced that this is too long. Is she able to take him without my permission?

    • The answer to this question depends on the underlying court action. If paternity has been established already, or if there was a divorce, then no she cannot. It is also important to know if there are any custody and placement orders which this could be violating. However, if there is no court action or court orders, then she does not need your permission to take the children out of state. You should consult with an experienced family lawyer as soon as possible.

We welcome your comments or questions. We will do our best to try to respond. However, please be advised that we cannot give legal advice in this forum and all communications are for general informational purposes only. Communication should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. This is an open forum and any information you provide may be posted and will not be held confidentially. By posting a comment or question, you are expressly giving consent for the publication of same. If you have any specific legal issues or concerns, we always recommend that you consult with an attorney in the county and state in which you reside.

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