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Planning spring vacation with the kids: Details help

This is the time of year when many people start looking ahead, planning family vacations for spring break. That planning can be complicated if you have to work around a custody and visitation agreement with your ex-spouse.

In order to avoid complications—including the potential of being charged with parental kidnapping—check your custody papers to see what limitations there are on travelling with the kids.

In general, there are some tips that you might find helpful:

—It's usually okay to take your children anywhere within the state without getting your ex-spouse's express permission.

—Going anywhere outside of the state can be a lot more problematic. That puts you outside of the family court's jurisdiction. It isn't prohibited, but you generally need the other parent's consent.

—Start planning early. Giving your ex-spouse two to three months advance notice isn't unreasonable. That way, if there is a problem, you have plenty of time to try to reach an agreement before involving the court in the issue.

—Create an itinerary for your ex-spouse, so that he or she knows where you will be with the children and when. While it might vex you a little to have to give your ex-spouse such detailed information, this can make it easier to get approval from a court if you have to take the issue before a judge.

—Provide your ex-spouse with contact information so that he or she can get in touch with you or the children in case of an emergency.

—Given the easy availability and low cost of electronics these days, buying the kids a cheap pre-paid phone to take on the trip that they can use to call their other parent with at will won't hurt your case.

—If your children are going to miss a scheduled visitation, you may be able to arrange for a "virtual visit" using Skype or some other system.

If you and your ex-spouse can't agree about vacation plans, the strongest thing you can do to convince a judge to give you the go-ahead for your trip is to have a detailed plan ready that covers as many potential issues as possible.

If you need more assistance resolving a custody issue related to spring vacation, please visit our page.

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