The Child Custody Laws Relating to Travelling to Another State With Written Consent

By Mike Broemmel

Updated July 21, 2017

Mother and son at airport

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A divorced parent can take a child on a trip out of state consistent with the requirements of a custody order. The initial step usually is obtaining the consent of the parent not traveling. Before embarking on obtaining written permission, you must understand not only the limitations of such a consent but the other necessary requirements for this type of travel.

Child Custody Order

Any agreement between the parents permitting out-of-state travel with a minor child must be consistent with the terms of the custody order. Provided the custody order either specifically permits it or is silent on the subject, a written consent by one parent is sufficient to allow the other to travel out of state with the child. If the custody order requires prior court approval for that type of journey, you must be certain to obtain a specific order from the court allowing the trip. Do not erroneously conclude that failing to obtain court approval is a minor deviation. The reality is that not only is a court concerned about the welfare of a child, but taking a minor from the state technically removes her from the jurisdiction and authority of the court, a situation a judge does not take lightly.


Child custody laws associated with taking a minor child on an out-of-state trip require the traveling parent to provide the other with a reasonably detailed itinerary. The parent not on the trip must generally know the planned course of the trip, as well as basic information about how to contact the traveling parent or child in the event of an emergency or for any other reasonable purpose.

Extent of Consent

The consent of the nontraveling parent extends only to the specific travel plans discussed and outlined in the document itself. If the traveling parent fails to return the child to the state as agreed, the conduct violates the other parent's rights associated with the child. That parent is able seek enforcement of the existing custody order and sanctions against the delinquent parent. By law, these sanctions include an alteration of the existing custodial arrangement or a suspension of the traveling parent's visitation rights, depending on which parent currently maintains custody. The court can issue a finding holding the parent in contempt, according to Cornell University Law School.