Can your ex leave the country with the kids for a vacation?

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2022 | Child Custody

Divorce has a way of shaking families up. Your ex who has always been a homebody may suddenly become a social butterfly, taking the kids out someplace different every weekend that they have custody. During summer vacation, they may make plans for something even more adventurous and extravagant. They may want to take your kids on an international trip.

Whether they want to visit extended family in Europe or visit Canada for the first time as part of a two-week road trip, you may have concerns about international travel when you share custody after a Virginia divorce.

Can your ex leave the country with your children?

Your custody order may restrict travel

Many parenting plans already have clauses addressing travel and vacation plans. Checking your existing plan can help you determine if you already put a limitation in place. It is common for parents to require pre-approval for international travel. Usually, you need to receive at least 30 days’ notice. In highly-contested divorces, parents may even require pre-approval for travel out of the state.

If there is already a rule in your parenting plan or custody order, you can reference that when you respond to your ex about their plans for the children. You may be able to explain to them why the international travel plans concern you. You shouldn’t have to give up your time with the children for their travel. They might adjust their plans for your comfort, or they might try to push ahead anyway.

What if they want to travel without your permission?

If your ex hopes to take the kids out of the country without your consent and while subject to a custody order, they will probably need permission from the courts. A modification hearing may be necessary, and the judge will have to decide if the travel would benefit the children or potentially put them at risk.

You and your ex will have an opportunity at any such hearing to present evidence about your perspective. However, it is typically better for the children in a family if their parents can reach an agreement outside of court, as returning to family court may increase their stress levels.

Reviewing the rules that apply to shared custody arrangements in Virginia can help you handle a disagreement about vacation plans with your ex.