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To Travel or Not to Travel –– What Co-Parents Need to Think About Before Vacation this Summer

Posted on July 19, 2021 by Lasher Holzapfel Sperry & Ebberson

It’s been a long, hard year, but things are now starting to open up again, which has many people thinking about that first post-vaccine vacation.  However, there are a few things to consider in planning a safe vacation.  Even if everyone in your family has been vaccinated, make sure to discuss your travel plans with your co-parent in advance so you can both get on board with your plans, what safety measures you want to follow, and what will happen upon your return.

Things to think about include:

What safety measures are you both willing to take both before the trip and while on the trip?

These may include measures like getting vaccinated, and educating yourself and your children about proper protective measures like handwashing and mask-wearing before the trip. Similarly, while you are on your trip, will everyone be wearing masks while in public? Is there anything else you or your co-parent need to do to make this trip feel safe?

Are there any government restrictions you need to be aware of both in your home state or country, and the place to which you will be traveling?

While many places are re-opening in their entirety, some still have limits and regulations. You and your co-parent should be aware of these and ensure that the person traveling is willing to work with those regulations.

Similarly, make sure you check your parenting plan to ensure it is okay to take these kinds of trips. You might need to inform your co-parent if you are going out of a certain state or traveling more than a certain distance. You might also need to provide your co-parent an itinerary for your trip.

Who else will be traveling with you? Will everybody be vaccinated?

The chances of contracting the virus once you are vaccinated are extremely low, but what if other people in your party are not vaccinated? Are you and your co-parent in agreement with that? Do you need to ask the members of your party for proof of vaccination before your trip?

What happens if something goes wrong?

Nobody likes to think about the worst case scenario, particularly when a vacation is involved, but it is much better to have a plan beforehand than to try and figure something out if something does go wrong. So, what happens if somebody gets sick? What if your travel destination locks down and your family is stuck there? What if you have to quarantine in-place for some reason? Thinking about all these issues in advance can really ease your mind, even if the worst does not happen.

What happens when you return home?

Once the vacation is over, what happens then? Are you and your family going to self-isolate? If so, will the children stay with you or your co-parent? What if one (or more) of the children become ill once back at home, with whom will they stay? Do you want to wait a certain amount of time before you or your child visit your co-parent after your trip?

Above all, remember –– both parents ultimately want the same thing.  If you do not already have a parenting plan in place, but are in the midst of negotiating one, try to think of issues that may arise regarding travel and address them in advance or agree on a way to collaborate on a solution to address future disputes.  And be mindful, any restrictions that you are requesting now, if implemented, will impact you too in some way down the road.   Travel is supposed to be fun for the child(ren) so be mindful of that as you work on your agreement.

It can sometimes be easy to fall into an adversarial relationship with your co-parent over things like travel, and with emotions so heightened after a year of lockdown anxiety, a tense situation can spiral quickly. If you find yourself starting to fall into that “us vs them” mentality, try to take a step back and remember that you both want the same thing: a safe, happy, healthy child. Even though you might have different ways to get to that goal, the goal remains the same.

If you have questions about divorce, child custody, parenting plans, or any of the information in this post, contact Hillary Collyer, Jamie Polito Johnston, Maya Trujillo Ringe, Tara K. Richardson, or any of the lawyers in the Family Law Practice Group at Lasher.  We are here to help.