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Planning a Summer Vacation Under a Colorado Child Custody Order

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Representing clients during a divorce case is only part of our Denver family law practice. If a couple has children who are under the age of 18, our clients’ responsibilities continue long after the judge grants the divorce, and we are there to help. (Please note that Colorado courts no longer use the word “custody,” but since it remains a familiar term, we will use it here.) Vacations, especially during summer breaks from school, are an important part of childhood, but as great as summer vacations can be, they can also be a major source of conflict between parents who share custody. How does Colorado family law handle this sort of situation?

As a general rule, it is always a good idea to notify the other parent of a planned summer vacation. A parent may be legally obligated to get the other parent’s permission for a trip, however, based on two factors: the timing of the trip and the destination.

Timing of a Summer Vacation

A parent can schedule a vacation during one of their designated periods of summer visitation without necessarily needing the other parent’s permission. Most parenting plans allow alterations to the established schedule with both parents’ agreement, such as if a planned vacation is only possible at a time not covered by the existing parenting plan. It should go without saying that it is absolutely critical to get any sort of agreement like this in writing.

Destination of a Summer Trip

Vacation destinations, and the possible legal requirements surrounding them, fit into three basic categories:

– Intrastate vacations, in which Colorado vacationers partake of Colorado’s many vacation opportunities. These types of vacations typically do not require the other parent’s consent, although we once again mention that it is generally a good idea to notify the other parent of an upcoming trip.

– Interstate vacations, which stay within the United States. Some court-ordered parenting plans require a parent to get permission from the other parent, or the court, before taking a child out of the state. The extent of any restrictions depend on individual family circumstances, such as a past history of non-compliance with court orders. The laws relating to child custody and parental responsibilities vary from state to state, making enforcement of the parenting plan difficult should anything go wrong. Most states have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to aid in this process. Colorado has codified the UCCJEA at C.R.S. §§ 14-13-101 through 14-13-403.

– International vacations. Many parenting plans require permission from the other parent or the court to take a child out of the country. As with interstate trips, the main concern is that the child will be outside the court’s jurisdiction, but with this sort of trip the parent and child will be outside both state and federal jurisdictions. The restrictions placed on this type of vacation depend on the family’s circumstances, and also on the destination country. The only definitive legal tool for enforcing U.S. custody orders abroad is the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which has been ratified by 93 countries, including the United States. This is fewer than half of the world’s 195 independent states, as identified by the U.S. Department of State.

If you are currently involved in a Colorado divorce proceeding, or if you are thinking about filing for divorce, you should consult with an hardworking and diligent Colorado child custody attorney. The Denver family law lawyers at Plog & Stein can help you understand your rights and responsibilities, advocate for your interests, and prepare the best possible case. To schedule an initial consultation to see how we can assist you, contact us today through our website or at 303-502-9422.

More Blog Posts:

Colorado Custody And Relocation With Children (Part 1), Denver Divorce Attorney Blog, June 9, 2014
Tis’ The Season to Be Jolly: Holiday Visitation And Your Divorce/Custody Case, Denver Divorce Attorney Blog, November 23, 2011
Denver Custody: 50/50 Custody, I Want It and What Does It Mean? Denver Divorce Attorney Blog, June 24, 2011
Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures [Public domain, CC0 1.0], via Pixabay.