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Traveling for a Vacation/Parenting Time & Six Tips to Make It Less Stressful

Traveling for a Vacation/Parenting Time & Six Tips to Make It Less Stressful

Do not tell your children first!

You have planned a vacation to Disneyland and want to share the news with your children. Your boss has approved your vacation time and it will be scheduled for the upcoming holiday break from school. You know the children will be excited, but when should you tell them. The best tip is to wait to tell the children until after you have spoken with the other parent and all details are set.

Review the custody and parenting time sections of your Judgment.

Before you ask for the time off for vacations with your children, read over the custody and parenting time provisions in your judgment and orders entered after the judgment. Do you understand the limitations listed in the paragraph on the Hague Convention? Are you traveling to a country that is not a party to the Hague Convention? Do you know where to find those countries? Read the provisions for holiday parenting time. Are your plans within your schedule time? Have you allotted enough time to deal with canceled flights or other delays due to weather? How much notice are you required to provide the other parent? What information must be shared pursuant to the terms of the judgment? If any of the provisions or terms are unclear to you, you may need to consult an attorney to determine what you will need to do.

Talk to the Other Parent

Before you book a flight or reserve a hotel suite, talk to the other parent. If you need extra days to accommodate travel, ask how you can arrange this. Be willing to give up some of your time around your travel to have the time you need. Put any agreements reached with the other parent in writing and follows the terms of your judgment. If you are deviating from the terms of the judgment, put those in writing and have both parties sign, in front of notaries preferably. If there is a disagreement about your proposed travel plans, contact an attorney for assistance in working out the disagreement.

Give Advance Notice

Provide advanced notice to the other parent of your intended holiday or vacation plans.  Do not wait until the time specified in your judgment or the last minute. If the other parent is not in agreement or is holding the passport hostage, you will not have enough time to seek the assistance of an attorney. If the other parent refuses or disagrees with your travel plans, you will need to have plenty of time to bring a motion before the court.

Provide all the Information and a Tentative Schedule

Giving notice in advance and talking to the other parent should include all the information and tentative schedule, even if your judgment does not require it. Being generous with this information may ease fears or anxiety that can lead to disagreements. Provide this information in writing. You can use an email or communicate in any court-ordered family communication app. This provides proof that the information was communicated if it is later needed. Be sure to answer the following in your notice:

  • Where are you going and for how long?
  • What are your travel plans?
  • How will you travel? By plane, car, train or bus? Be willing to provide the details of your travel, including airline, flight number and flight schedule.
  • Who is going with you and the children?
  • Where do you plan on staying? Provide all the information.
  • Have you made reservations or booked flights yet?
  • Do you need the child’s passport or immunization records?
  • What is the schedule like and when can the child and other parent communicate during the trip? Is communication with the other parent the best for the child?

If you are providing copies of confirmations or receipts for any reservations or bookings, feel free to redact any information that details with costs or account numbers.

Get Paperwork Early

Determine if the children will need a passport or visa. If this is the case, the other parent normally must sign the appropriate paperwork. If the other parent has the passport, you will need to obtain it from them. If the other parent refuses to sign paperwork or turn over the passport, you will need time to file a motion with the court. There should be time to allow for enforcing the court’s decision, if the other parent is defying the court’s orders. This may take weeks or months to accomplish, so waiting until two weeks before the schedule trip may be too late.

A sample email notice to the other parent may look like the following:

Dear Co-Parent,

As you recall, I have Spring Break next year, I have a vacation planned for this school break with the children. I have not informed the children yet, but I want to surprise them with it after speaking with you. Below is the information for the proposed plan.

On Saturday, April 4, 2022, the children and I will leave at approximately 7a.m. from my home. We will fly out of Detroit Metro to Orlando on United. I am looking at a 9 a.m. flight that will land around 11 a.m. in Orlando. This will be a direct flight. I will provide you with the exact times and flight number after I have booked the flight. We are staying for five nights at Disney All-Star Movies Resort, address and telephone. On Wednesday, we will drive down to Miami, Florida and stay in my parent’s condo, address and telephone. We will return to Orlando to catch our return flight home on Sunday. After retrieving our luggage, getting a quick dinner and driving, I expect that the children will arrive at your home around 8 p.m. The children will give you a call when we land and when we are on our way to your home.

Please contact me as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns. As always, I will have the children contact you in the evenings. I will have my cell phone with me the whole time, if you need to reach us.



You are not required to provide this information to the other parent (unless your judgment or order says differently); however, this act of good faith and spirit of cooperation may make co-parenting around the holidays or extended school breaks easier. Finally, this behavior, even if not witnessed by the children, will last far into their future as the children will know that they had two parents who loved them and worked together for their benefit.

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