By Atty. Andy P. Miller
School will soon be out for the summer, and many families are already planning their summer getaways. If you’re separated or divorced, travel plans can be challenging. But we’ve got some tips to help ensure smooth sailing, no matter where you go.
If you’re planning to go out of state or out of the country, the first thing you need to do is ensure that you’ve got the permission of your child’s other parent. Some divorce agreements require prior approval. But even if yours doesn’t, it’s common courtesy to let your ex-spouse know your plans.
Both parents also need to consent to the issuance of a passport for children under age 18. The easiest way to do this is to have both of you present when you apply for your child’s passport. If that’s not possible, you need to provide a court order showing you have sole legal custody of the child; proof you are the only legal parent; or a notarized statement of consent from the other parent.
It also helps to have a notarized statement from your ex saying you have his or her permission to take your child out of state or out of the country, as well as a notarized statement authorizing medical care in a medical emergency.
When it comes to planning your vacation, try to include your children in making travel plans. Give them a say in where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, if possible. When you’re ready to travel, let them help find the gate at the airport or read maps to get to your destination. It’s not only fun for them, but it also teaches them necessary skills for traveling on their own some day.
If you’re traveling by plane, here are some tips to make it easier:
* Avoid check-in lines at the airport. Check in ahead of time online.
* Bring a stroller to make it easier to juggle toddlers and luggage. You can check the stroller when you board the airplane; it doesn’t count as luggage.
* Take advantage of early boarding for families with small children, helping you get your children and carry-ons in place.
* Make sure you’ve got plenty of things to keep your children entertained — including books, coloring and activity books, games and electronic devices. (Don’t forget to bring portable charging units to keep them powered.)
* Pack snacks for the plane ride, as well as for your hotel.
* Don’t forget an emergency kit with Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, a thermometer, and children’s Advil or Tylenol.
* Also make sure you’ve got an emergency plan in place, knowing how and who to call for help should they become separated from you while away.
* Pick family-friendly hotels and have a family-friendly itinerary.
* Have an emergency plan in case your kids get separated… make sure they know how to find help and whom to ask.
* Finally, remember to have fun. It’s tough to maintain routines while on vacation, but it’s OK to be flexible when it comes to bedtimes and other routines.
The single most important thing you need to do is enjoy your time together, making memories that will last a lifetime.
Attorney Andy P. Miller is the founder and managing attorney of Miller Law Group, P.C. A father himself, Miller focuses on children and their best interests by helping guide parents through the divorce process. Having practiced in nearly every county in Massachusetts, he has a wide understanding of the various courts in Massachusetts and experience before many judges.