Holiday Travel and Child Custody in Florida: Everything You Need to Know

If you and your ex-spouse have a custody agreement, you may wonder how it affects holiday travel with your children. Can I leave town with our child during the holidays? Can I leave the state? Do I have to notify the other parent if I leave on vacation with our child? These are common questions that arise as time marches on after a divorce.

The Parenting Plan and Vacations

Your custody agreement will contain a court-approved parenting plan that you and your spouse agreed upon. Within this parenting plan, there may be provisions relating to vacations and out-of-state travel, but only if you and your spouse previously had them incorporated into the plan.

Otherwise, there is no express prohibition in Florida family law that prevents one spouse from traveling with a child during the holiday season. There is also no express notice requirement that the traveling parent must abide by.

However, the terms of a parenting plan may prevent holiday travel depending on the time-sharing schedule. For example, if parents are on an alternating-weeks schedule (seven days with one parent and seven days with the other), then neither parent would be authorized to take a two-week holiday trip without the permission of the other.

Coming to an Agreement

If you and your ex-spouse are having issues with holiday travel and the kids, you can work together to come to an agreement in the absence of one in your parenting plan. Mediation is a fine way to work out an agreement. An experienced child custody attorney can help make sure your interests are looked after during this process.

Pre-Divorce Considerations

If you are considering a divorce or are going through one, you have a great opportunity to structure how your holiday seasons will look in the future. You and your spouse can create provisions that dictate how holiday time is to be divided.

Typical vacation and holiday season provisions include:

  • Notification requirements when leaving town, regardless of duration and distance
  • Time-sharing provisions specific to the holidays
  • Provisions requiring mutual consent for all holiday and other travel

If you are going through a divorce and the holidays are around the corner, then different rules may apply. While divorce proceedings are in effect, a parent may not take their child on vacation out of state without permission from the other parent.

In some instances, permission may also be necessary if the parent wants to travel within the state. If the other parent refuses to agree to the travel, their ex-spouse may petition the judge for permission.

Your parenting plan should contain provisions that decide how travel works during the holidays. If it does not, the next best thing is to come to an agreement with your ex-spouse on how to proceed during the holiday season.

The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can help you iron out the child custody issues that may be threatening your holidays. Contact our office to speak with a child custody lawyer and let’s find solutions to your problem before the holidays are upon us.