Helpful hints and tips to avoid the pitfalls of going back to Court over vacation disputes with your co-parent.

When parents are separated, travel can become a hurdle that requires Court intervention.  However, I am of the opinion that this issue can be handled in most cases with proper planning.  So, here are some helpful hints and tips to avoid the pitfalls of going back to Court over vacation disputes with your co-parent:

  1. Plan ahead- Try to take steps to plan your vacation well in advance to comply with any existing Court Orders regarding notification.
  2. Once you verify the Court Order regarding notification, take steps to secure the time as soon in advance as possible.  Just because the Court Order might say thirty (30) days doesn’t mean that you can’t give notice one hundred and twenty (120) days in advance.  I suggest confirming in writing (email, text, parenting communication application, etc.) the dates you are seeking to travel.  A sample communication may be as follows, “I am planning my family vacation.  I am planning to travel July 7th through July 14th.  I will provide you additional information once everything is scheduled.  Please let me know if you have questions.”
  3. If you are traveling outside the country, you need to pay specific attention! There are many co-parenting situations where a parent does not want their child to travel outside the country which is addressed in more detail below.  Before you move forward with scheduling, consider sending a follow up communication regarding the location to make sure if a dispute arises there is sufficient time to bring the matter before the Court including the necessity of getting the child a Passport.
  4. After you have scheduled the vacation, you need to provide your co-parent appropriate information well in advance of the scheduled vacation.  I believe that the more information you provide the less arguing that will occur.  As an example, if you are booking through an airline, give the co-parenting direct information from the airline regarding the flight information.  In my opinion, the following must be provided at a minimum:
    1. Information regarding the method of travel (flying, cruise, train, automobile);
    1. An address where the child will be located throughout the vacation; and
    1. A telephone number where the child can be reached throughout the vacation.
  5. Trip insurance- I know it seems silly to be suggesting that you need trip insurance, but I feel like it is better to be precautions in case the matter cannot be resolve amicably.

In 2015, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a ruling in Davis v. Ewalefo, 131 Nev. ___, 352 P.3d 1139 (2015), a child’s travel outside the country for visitation.  In this case, the dispute was regarding international travel to Africa.  On issue raised was the location where the parent wanted to travel was not a member of the Hague Convention.  The Supreme Court indicated that fact alone is not sufficient to deny a parent who is not at risk of abducting a child, the ability to travel to countries that are not part of the Hague Convention.  The District Court may consider this as a factor, but it cannot be foreclosed for that sole reason.  The Supreme Court also indicated when being considered the District Court must look at the best interest factors.  Therefore, travel outside the country is not barred, and must be reviewed on a case by case basis.

Note, the type of vacation referred to is outside your regularly scheduled timeshare.  This mean that the co-parent is not losing any time.  In the instance where the vacation is entirely during your timeshare, just look to step #XX for direction on how handle the matter.

Amanda Roberts is a family law practitioner in private practice since 2005. She is a partner in Roberts Stoffel Family Law Group, a Las Vegas, Nevada family law firm.