Divorce is hard on California couples, particularly divorces that involve children. After a divorce is finalized, and a custody schedule is in place, you may want nothing more than to take your children on a fun, international adventure to help everyone heal and move forward with your new life.
However, international traveling with your children will be more complicated now that there is a co-parent in the picture. Except in extreme circumstances, a custody order generally cannot forbid you from taking vacations with your children, but there are still many things you should do to decrease the chance of a conflict.
Follow your custody agreement
Your custody agreement likely includes a vacation schedule, which you must follow no matter what. If your custody agreement allows you 1 week of vacation time per year with your children, do not plan a 2-week trip to France.
You and your co-parent always have the option of agreeing to follow a different schedule than the one in your custody agreement. Therefore, if your co-parent tells you they agree to the 2-week France trip, you are free to go, but get their agreement in writing.
You do not necessarily need to execute an entirely new custody agreement, but a written and signed statement from them saying they agree to the vacation, with specific dates and locations, will protect you if they try to take you back to court later and argue that you did not follow the custody agreement.
Challenges sometimes arise when it comes to securing passports for children. You and the other parent must both cooperate to obtain passports for minor children under age 16. Your co-parent may refuse to help for various reasons, such as fear that you will flee the country with the children or safety concerns about where you are traveling.
If you overcome these issues and plan your trip, provide your co-parent with trip details. Let them know the dates you will gone, exactly where you will be, who you will be with and any other information that they would need if something happened.
Advice tailored to your situation
In conclusion, yes, you may certainly travel with your children after a divorce, but the process will not be as simple as it used to be. An experienced divorce attorney can provide you with helpful advice as you plan your travels.