One of the common issues parents deal with when going through a newly filed divorce is how to deal with pre-planned vacations and travel out-of-state with the minor children. Whether a divorce, child custody or paternity action, these cases usually occur at the least convenient times. When parents make decisions to take each other to Court it is not necessarily something that has been planned months in advance.
While a family law case is pending my clients often want to know if they have a right to leave Illinois with the minor children – whether for a planned vacation or similar type of trip. My answer is almost always that it is best to try and enter an Order regarding a trip instead of just rather than just taking one. to ensure everyone understands the absence is temporary. Otherwise, poor communications between the parties could result in the non-traveling parent believing that the traveling parent is not returning the minor children. If that happens, it could lead to seeking an Order of Protection, allegations of parental kidnapping, and more. So, it is better to be safe than sorry when planning a vacation during family law proceedings.
Permission to Travel Out of State With Minor Children
First and foremost, if it is a pre-planned trip, the parties should communicate with one another to see if there is still an agreement for one (or sometimes both) of the parties to travel out-of-state with the minor children on the pre-planned vacation. The attorneys for the parents can also communicate and try to draft an agreed order, which sets forth the dates of travel, method of transportation/travel information, an address where the minor children will be staying, an emergency phone number, etc. That way it is completely clear to everyone where the children will be.
Motion to Travel Out of State
Alternatively, if there is no agreement for the party who wishes to travel to another state with their minor children, a motion can be filed with the court requesting the travel. At that point, it is up to the discretion of the Judge if the trip will be allowed. However, under no circumstances should a parent take their minor children out of state without first discussing the travel with legal counsel. Doing so when there is a family law matter pending can lead to unintentional consequences.