We’re serious about helping you have fun and spend time with your family this season. That’s why we’ve asked Petrelli Previtera, LLC associate Kristin M. Lis, Esq. to share her most important tips for planning a successful post-divorce vacation with kids.

In this second session of our Summer Vacation Series, we cover logistics, documentation, and legal lead time. Now dive in and start planning!

Q: “HOW DO I ASK PERMISSION FOR MY KIDS TO TRAVEL WITH ME?”

KL: Because all custody agreements are different, you’ll want to read through your specific agreement for terms on vacation time, holidays, advanced notice, and scheduling. When asking permission, provide as much information as possible, in writing: dates, location, accommodations, methods of travel, emergency contact numbers, and potential activities. If you don’t have a legal vacation plan in place, provide the other parent with this same information, and make sure when you agree to a schedule, it meets the requirements of your general agreement—signed, dated, and notarized.

Q: “HOW DO I GET A PASSPORT FOR MY CHILD?”

KL: Passport applications for children under the age of 14 require the signatures of both parents, thanks to a law passed in 2001 by the U.S. government. This rule was created specifically to protect children from parental kidnapping during divorce and custody proceedings, and the only exception is if one parent has sole custody of the minor child—in which case, only the custodial parent’s signature is required. Depending on your custody situation, you’ll need to ask your ex to sign your child’s passport application. If your ex refuses to sign, you can file a motion with the court to compel the signature. However, be mindful of timing because it can take a month or more to get into court.

Q: “WHAT OTHER DOCUMENTS DO WE NEED?”

KL: If traveling with only one parent, a minor will need a Child Travel Consent Form. This document must include the minor’s name, birthplace, passport information (if you’re traveling internationally), permission from the non-traveling parent, contact information for the non-traveling parent, relevant information about the traveling parent (name, custody agreement, passport details), as well as trip details, and any special needs or allergy information. Some airlines will also require you to fill out Unaccompanied Minor Program paperwork if a child is traveling without both parents. Documentation rules differ between countries, so be sure to check the U.S. State Department International Travel website for information about the requirements for your destination country.

Q: “WHERE SHOULD WE TRAVEL TO?”

KL: As a general rule of thumb, it’s wise to travel to countries that are part of the Hague Convention, a multi-country treaty that ensures minors who are internationally abducted by a parent are returned to their home country as quickly as possible (with the help of the vacation country’s officials). As of 2018, there are 98 nations included in the Convention, which gives single parents plenty of landscapes and destinations to choose from—while simultaneously delivering peace of mind to the non-traveling parent and other family members.

Q: “WHAT IF MY EX PUSHES BACK ON MY PLANS?”

KL: When planning your trip, be as reasonable as possible and always give notice far in advance. For example, don’t schedule a vacation during the other parent’s time, and if your agreement says you must ask at least 30 days before a vacation, don’t wait until the last minute. This tip is out of courtesy, but it also allows you time to bring an application to the court if your ex refuses to sign any necessary passport and travel documents. You’ll want to give yourself ample time to file a motion with the court that can force the other parent to sign the paperwork, or mediate a new vacation plan.

If you need assistance with a family law matter, our attorneys at Petrelli Previtera, LLC can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.

Things to Consider When Taking a Family Vacation as a Single Parent

You’ve decided that it’s time for your family to take a well-deserved break from work and school obligations. Of course the idea is exciting, but planning a vacation as a single parent can be a big undertaking. Flights and car rentals, hotels, destination decisions, food, emergency documents, and buy-in from your former spouse—the considerations definitely add up.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make a single-parent family vacation a total success. Here are 7 things to think about when you’re planning your getaway.

1. SEEK OUT SINGLE-PARENT RESORT DEALS.

Many major resort packages are tailored for two-parent families; however, more companies are offering deals to travelers just like you. Look for resort, hotel and cruise deals that offer single-parent prices. All-inclusive options such as Disney Cruise Line, Mexico’s Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit and Beaches Resorts offer packages that waive the single supplement and some even host adults-only cocktail parties for single parents, complete with childcare on board.

2. PAIR UP WITH OTHER FAMILIES.

It’s common to worry that you or your children will feel out of place if you head somewhere that caters to two-parent families—or lonely if you’re set on a destination without many other travelers. Don’t be afraid to pair up with another single-parent family for company. A sibling or close friend who’s also a single parent can provide companionship for you and playmates for your kids.

3. USE TRAVEL PLANNERS AND APPS.

Companies like Signature Vacations and Sell Off Vacations specialize in single-parent travel and can help you book the best tours, properties and cruises that accommodate your family’s needs. Travel apps are also extremely helpful for single parents trying to juggle all the planning. TripHobo features a selection of pre-planned itineraries to help you choose your destinations and activities, while TripCase automatically creates itineraries based on your choices and helps you stay organized on the trip with an individual news feed and updates for each segment of your trip.

4. GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED.

Take some pressure off yourself by enlisting your kids’ help in choosing the destination, activities and cuisine preferences. After all, it’s a vacation for the entire family, and it should be fun for everyone. Encourage your children to practice packing in advance so you know exactly what they’re bringing and where it is within the luggage. Also allow your kids to bring toys, snacks and favorite (small) items from home, as these comforts from home can help ease their travel anxieties.

5. SAVE MONEY WITH NATURE ADVENTURES.

If money is a major consideration, consider visiting a state or national park for a night or two. Considering the extensive park system in America, you likely won’t have to go far from home to find a campsite in the mountains—or on the shore, if that’s more your style. Camping passes can be as low as $10 per night, and if you pack your own food and gear, you’re in for a low-maintenance, affordable getaway.

6. STAY CONNECTED AND SAFE.

As the sole parent responsible for your kids’ safety, it’s important to teach young kids the buddy system and other mandatory safety precautions well before you take off. For older kids, who may go off exploring on their own, smartphone apps can help track their locations, store emergency information and stay connected to you through their devices. Download and become familiar with apps such as Footprints, Find My Kids and In Case of Emergency (ICE).

7. ORGANIZE DOCUMENTS AHEAD OF TIME.

Proper documentation is crucial for smooth travels—especially for international travel. Child protection laws have required border control to be sure children traveling with one adult have permission from the other parent to do so. Bring copies of necessary files such as custody orders or authorized travel documents with your ex’s signature, passports or Trusted Traveler Program documents, immunization records from the CDC, travel insurance and health insurance coverage.

Most importantly, remember that vacation is meant to be fun, free and relaxing—a break from the fast pace of everyday life. Avoid planning every minute of the trip, so you and your kids have the flexibility to do the things you truly enjoy.

If you need assistance with a family law matter, our attorneys at Petrelli Previtera, LLC can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.