But what happens if separated parents cannot agree, for example, on who should get how many holiday time with the children? Or if a holiday originally agreed between the parents suddenly cannot be taken because perhaps the other parent is not handing over children or travel documents? What is the legal situation?
holiday time and co-parenting
The crucial question in connection with holiday trips is: Who has custody? Holiday trips are part of the care and upbringing of a child and the person with custody is responsible for this. Likewise, the person who has custody of the child can apply for a passport for the child and also keep it.
Joint custody and Vacation with the Kids
In the case of joint custody, both parents can make decisions about the child’s holidays and generally do not need each others permission. If, for example, there is a visitation arrangement in place, each parent per se can determine the child’s stay/holiday destination during their time and does not need the permission of the other parent. If the other parent travels abroad within the visitation plan, the child’s passport must also be handed over by the main parent who will usually keep the passport. However, one has the right to know the child’s place of residence or holiday. In this context, the parents should observe the principle of mutual consent. This means that the parents should agree on important issues concerning the children and also inform the other parent. This also applies to holiday trips of the child. However, the principle of mutual consent must not be overstretched. Each parent can make everyday decisions for him or herself without needing the consent of the other parent. If you had to ask the other parent for permission every time you wanted to take the children to grandma’s for Sunday coffee, that would not be liveable either.
When do I need consent of the other parent to take kids on vacation?
If one parent who shares custody with the other parent wants to go on a short trip with the children as part of their weekend, it will not be necessary to obtain the consent of the other parent. If, on the other hand, a longer trip or even a trip lasting several weeks to a faraway, possibly dangerous country is planned, it will be necessary to inform the other parent and to reach an agreement with him or her. If there is no agreement between parents regarding a planned holiday trip, the competent district court can be called upon to make a decision. The court focuses on the best interests of the child and examines the circumstances. It should be kept in mind, however, that court decisions require a certain amount of time and that in the event of a dispute one should therefore go to the court as early as possible. If you want to obtain a court decision at the end of July, for a planned trip at the beginning of August, this will not be very effective.
Sole custody and holiday time
If one parent has sole custody, the situation is different. The parent who is not involved in custody cannot easily travel abroad with the child without the consent of the parent with custody. If the non-custodial parent wants to go on a holiday trip outside of the country with the child, the consent of the custodial parent or a court order should be obtained.
What to do if the holiday trip is cancelled by one parent for no reason?
If you cannot take the holiday you have longed for because an agreement originally made or even a court decision is suddenly torpedoed by one side for no reason, this can lead to financial damage. It is often no longer possible to cancel holidays that have already been booked at short notice without incurring costs. If one parent, contrary to a family law agreement, suddenly does not want to hand over the child or otherwise violates duties to cooperate, these frustrated holiday expenses can under certain circumstances be claimed from the parent on the basis of damages law.