It is easy to take interstate travel for granted. On any given weekend, you might be able to pack up the car for a road trip and cross a few state borders within a day. Historic Route 66 passes right through Missouri and can take you anywhere from Chicago to Los Angeles. However, because each state has its own laws, a child custody agreement can prevent you from crossing the state border, even for a day trip.
Depending on your parenting agreement, it is common for child custody orders to limit out-of-state travel with your child unless you have permission from the other parent. In some situations, the other parent may not allow an out-of-state trip or you may not be able to get ahold of the other parent. This can potentially put you at risk of a contempt of court violation or even criminal charges.
If you have questions about traveling out of state or out of the country with your child, contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm today.
Do You Need Permission in Missouri to Travel With Your Child?
Whether you need permission to travel with your child may depend on your parenting plan and child custody order. Take a close look at your child custody order for what is says about out-of-state or international travel. It is common for child custody orders to either limit interstate travel or any travel that impedes the other parent's visitation.
If your custody order or parenting plan requires permission to travel out-of-state or out of the country with your child, your next step should be getting the required permission. Getting permission may depend on your relationship with the other parent. It may involve a quick text or phone call, or it may involve a formal letter requesting permission in writing.
Especially with travel out of the country, it may be a good idea to get permission to travel in writing and keep documentation from the other parent. This can help protect you if the other parent claims you violated the parenting plan or interfered with their legal custody.
Shared or Sole Custody and Travel
Travel and permission to travel may depend on whether the parent has shared or sole legal and physical custody of a child. When the parent has sole or primary custody, the parent may not need to seek permission from the other parent to travel with the child temporarily. However, even with primary custody, travel that interferes with the other parent's visitation schedule may require permission.
No Permission Granted or Cannot Contact the Other Parent
If the other parent does not permit the child to travel out-of-state or outside the country, the traveling parent cannot just take matters into their own hands. Traveling when it will interfere with the other parent's custody time or against the parent's wishes may result in contempt of court orders, court sanctions, or even criminal charges. Similarly, if you are unable to get ahold of the other parent, you may be required to seek court approval in order to travel.
If you cannot get permission from the other parent, you may need to go to the court to get a court order. The court order can be used to show that you have legal custody of your child during the travel period, even if the other parent objects.
As with most child custody or visitation disputes, the court will generally refer a travel order request to mediation. Mediation is a tool to resolve parenting disputes as an alternative to litigation. In child custody and visitation issues, the court may, at any time, order the parties to participate in mediation. If mediation is not successful, the court may decide the matter.
Emergency Travel Plan Orders
There may be a need for an emergency order from the court where there is no time to wait for mediation or schedule a hearing. The court may hear an emergency child custody order modification where there is a last-minute need for the child to travel out-of-state or where the other parent withdrew permission at the last minute.
Reasons You May Not Want to Grant Travel Permission
There may be a number of reasons why a parent may not want to grant travel permission to the other parent. Travel may interfere with the child's school schedule or educational plans. The parent may be taking the child into potentially dangerous situations, including dangerous environmental hazards or dangerous weather where the child may be at risk of injury.
Other reasons a parent may not want to permit travel is because of who the child will be traveling with. A parent may not want their child to spend a lot of time, stay in a hotel, or spend unsupervised time with in-laws, careless relatives, or the other parent's new love interest.
If the other parent seeks a court order to travel with the child and you object, talk to your lawyer about your options. It may not be enough to say you don't like the other parent's new partner. You may have to have reasons or a basis for why you do not want your child to travel outside the state.
Interference With Custody or Parental Kidnapping
There can be serious consequences for traveling with your child against the other parent's permission. Under Missouri law, interference with custody is a crime. “A person commits the offense of interference with custody if, knowing that he or she has no legal right to do so, he or she takes or entices from legal custody any person entrusted by order of a court to the custody of another person or institution.” --Missouri Statute Chapter 565.150
If a parent takes a child out of state, interference with custody can be charged as a Class E felony, with penalties including up to four years in prison.
In more serious situations, where the parent intends to deprive the custody right of another who has custody, the parent may be charged with parental kidnapping. The penalties for parental kidnapping increase the longer the parent deprives custody and can be a Class B felony if the child is kept away for 120 days or more.
Avoiding Travel Disputes
Custody and visitation schedule plans should provide for the possibility of travel, including travel out-of-state or international travel. Parents may not think about adding travel language to custody orders but out-of-state travel may come up more often than you realize, including:
- Visiting out-of-town family,
- Out-of-state vacations,
- Volunteer opportunities in other countries, and
- Educational travel opportunities.
Making plans far ahead of time, trying to limit interruptions to the other parent's visitation time, and accommodating the other parent's vacation requests can help limit disputes involving travel and child custody.
Modifying the Custody and Visitation Schedule
If there are problems coming to an agreement on a child custody or visitation schedule for travel, contact the Higher Level Legal Law Firm in Raymore today. The Higher Level Legal Law Firm will be able to give you options for taking your child on trips or vacations so you can spend quality time with your child during the important and formative years. Contact us online or by calling (816) 331-9968.