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I have sole custody, can i take my child on vacation?

Southbridge, MA |

I have legal and physical custody of our child , her father only has visits one day a week for 2 hours ( i give him more time with her on Saturdays ) supervised . I am going on vacation in April and have sent him 2 certified letters that he refuses to go pick up at the post office stating the itinerary of the vacation and he has also read it on face book . can he still get me in contempt for going on vacation ? ? on the judgment it doesn't say anything about i can't take her out of state or that i even have to give him notice however i did give him 2 months notice

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Attorney answers 5


When you ask if the father can "get [you] in contempt" you're really asking two questions. The first is whether he can file a contempt action against you. The answer to that question is "yes." You can't control that. The more important question is whether a judge would find you in contempt. If the facts are as you describe, probably not. One thing that you could do is to offer the father make-up time with the child for the time he will miss while you are on vacation. You need to satisfy the judge that you are not deliberately working to deny the father access to the child or to interfere with his scheduled time. Offering make-up time makes it clear that you are protecting the father's time while giving your child an opportunity to go away on vacation. Of course, if the father does not pick up the certified letters in which you try to schedule make-up time, then he will be in a weak position arguing that you are in contempt.

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If the father has a court ordered visitation and you deny him that visitation you are in contempt and he can take action. Giving prior notice only provides him evidence that the contempt was willful and intentional. You may want to call him, send a regular letter or an email him and ask for his agreement allowing you to take the child out of state for a vacation. Remind him that you have been extremely cooperative with him on allowing extra visitations on Saturdays and you expect reciprocal consideration. Save any response.

If he does not respond, then motion the court for leave to remove the child from the state for X number of days for purposes of a vacation. I would expect the court to grant the motion with no problem. If you have problems writing the motion consult with an attorney – many will write the motion at minimal cost.

This is not legal advice and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should speak to an attorney for further information.


It may seem strange that I agreed with both of the prior answers, so let me explain. If your judgment is as you wrote, you should not be held in contempt. On the other hand, if your vacation is going to be longer than I thought on first read and Atty. Mason's assumption that it will cause the father to miss his regularly scheduled time, you should ask the court for permission.

Either way, when people don't pick up or I don't expect them to pick up certified letters, I often send a regular first class letter. You can also send email or a text or voicemail. You should include the details that Atty. Mason suggests.

Again, it is only a good idea to take the vacation without the father or court's consent if you are absolutely certain you are complying with your judgment and your plans do not interfere with the father's time with the child.

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Call me him and/or send him a regular letter

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Technically, you would be in violation of the court order if you did not provide the child during his normally scheduled parenting time. However, you could certainly provide other opportunities for him to have his "2 hour" visitation, but this would require the two of you working together to get this done.

Alternatively, you could seek the court's permission to modify the visitation schedule during your vacation.

Good luck!

Anthony Rao

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