So, you are getting divorced, or you’ve already received your Decree, and you want to take your kids on a trip? Regardless of whether you are in the process, or have already received your final Decree, traveling with children will be somewhat different than it was before the divorce started.
For example, once the divorce or legal separation action is commenced in Colorado, you and your spouse are both subject to a rule known as the “Automatic Temporary Injunction,” which, among other things, prohibits either of you from taking the children out of state without the permission of the other parent. In addition, once the divorce starts, you should be communicating about any overnights the children will spend away from home during your parenting time. Examples may be a child having a sleepover with a friend, or you taking the children to the mountains for the weekend. Failure to communicate with your co-parent about overnights away from home, while not specifically prohibited under Colorado law, can be perceived negatively by professionals evaluating parenting time, and also by the Court. If there are temporary parenting orders entered in your case, you must abide by those orders unless you have advance agreement of the other parent. As a result, communication regarding proposed travel during the pendency of the divorce is essential.
Similarly, once the divorce is final, arranging travel with the children may be somewhat more difficult but it’s far from impossible. Depending on where you are planning to travel there may be a few additional steps you need to complete before you take off.
Before doing anything else you should take the time to reread your parenting plan or final parenting orders to see what terms are already in place regarding vacations. Most parenting plans have a vacation clause that may set aside days, priority years for each parent, and general terms to help you and your co-parent navigate how to best approach vacation time. If you plan on traveling during a holiday such as spring break or winter break, make sure the trip aligns with your designated parenting time. If your proposed trip is going to dip into some of your co-parent’s time be sure to work something out with your co-parent. Always be sure to get everything in order with your co-parent before telling your kids about any plans in case your plans need to be altered.
If you and your ex-spouse share custody you will likely need their consent to take your kids on an international vacation. If you are planning to travel out of the country be sure to get some sort of written consent from your co-parent. Written consent and proof of custody is required in order to travel to virtually all countries, and it is always better to be safe rather than sorry when traveling outside of the country. When getting written consent, it is best to have some details including the full name and birthdate of all children travelling, destination and dates of travel.
Any sort of international travel requires a passport regardless of what age your children are. Getting a passport can be a rather long and lengthy process but let’s break it down. The first step will be getting an in-person appointment to apply for a passport. Some locations do accept walk-ins, but most locations require you to schedule an appointment in advance. You will also need a passport photo, as well as multiple documents including a Form DS-11, proof of parental relationship, proof of citizenship, and a valid ID. In order to get a passport both parents must consent. The easiest way to do this would be to have both parents present at the appointment but, if both parents are unable to be there then one parent may submit a photocopy of their ID and a notarized Form DS-3053 as their consent. If your child is 16 or 17 and has their own ID, they only need proof of one parent’s consent whether that be in person consent or a Form DS-3053. Be sure to schedule your appointment and get the paperwork done long before your trip, before the pandemic it was possible to get a passport in a couple of weeks, but lately it has been taking up to six months.
Whether your child already has a passport, or you are looking to get them one, it is important to decide how your children’s passports will be stored as well. Some parenting plans address this issue, but others do not. Ultimately, it’s about what works best for you and your co-parent, some co-parents simply request the passports from the other parent when they will be needed then keep them until the other parent may need them. Alternatively, one parent may be assigned to be primarily responsible for the passports and give them to the other parent when needed, that’s also perfectly acceptable.
To schedule a consultation or for more information you can call (303) 309-1077. Our offices are located at 1660 Lincoln Street, Suite 1525, Denver, CO 80264.