Written by attorney Teri M. Nelson

Can You Travel With Your Child Out Of State in a Divorce?

If you are fortunate to be able to take your child on a vacation during a divorce, do you need permission from the other parent? What about after the divorce? The short answer is that, in Wisconsin, you can take your child out of state on vacation without permission from the other parent. There is a common misconception that you need permission from the other parent for a vacation.

However, if by doing so, the other parent will not have his or her scheduled placement, that is a different situation. Most of the time, there will be a court order which allows at least a week or two of vacation. If there is a court order, providing that you give notice, you are allowed to take vacation regardless if the other parent agrees or not. However, sometimes during the pendency of the divorce, there may not be a temporary order which allows a vacation. If there is no court order, you would either need permission from the other parent to forego their regular placement or you would need to take your vacation over your own placement periods.

You should make sure there is a vacation provision in your final judgment of divorce. As long as there is a court order, the other parent does not have the right to restrict or veto your vacation. The only condition would be that they should know where their child(ren) are going to be and have contact information in case of an emergency.

The only exception to the above is if you are traveling out of the country. Federal law mandates that either both parents must be present or, if only one parent is present, written consent is necessary from the other parent or from the court. If the other parent refuses to cooperate and give permission, you can file a motion with the court requesting that the court enter an order allowing the travel.

I sometimes have clients who are the non-traveling parent and want to withhold consent for whatever reason. I tell them to keep in mind that they are only hurting the child(ren) by denying them the opportunity for a vacation. A few missed days of placement is well worth the benefit to the child. And, it may benefit you in the future if you want to take your own vacation.

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