Fox Family Lawyers
Cynthia Moseley Fox
Attorney at Law
7751 Carondelet Avenue,
Suite 700
Clayton, Missouri 63105
(St. Louis)
314.727.4880

Parents Must Communicate Their Travel Plans To Each Other

A client called recently, very agitated. Her children had told her that their “daddy” (and her soon-to-be ex-husband) would be leaving shortly for an overseas vacation. No, he wasn’t taking the kids with him, but she still thought she should have been informed about the trip and where he would be going. After all, she reasoned, what if an emergency came up with one of the children and she had to contact him immediately?

 

Ironically, her husband was under no legal obligation to keep her informed as to his whereabouts while they were still married, but that would soon change with their impending divorce. Once divorced, neither dad nor mom can keep the other in the dark about their travel plans.

 

That’s because Missouri law mandates that there be a parenting plan as part of every divorce that involves children. It must contain specific language that requires each party to inform the other of any plans they have for traveling out of town for an “extended time”. The notice is to include the person’s destination or location and telephone number. Further, most parenting plans also include a provision requiring one parent to contact the other in the event of an illness or emergency involving their child or children and seek the input of that parent regarding the situation.

 

The law lacks specificity about what is considered an “extended period” of travel and what type of details must be included in the itinerary so it is ripe for abuse by someone who wants to be secretive or to minimize contact with their former spouse. Also, a half-hearted attempt at contact via voice mail or email, as long as it adequately describes the situation, would probably fulfill the duty to keep the other informed for a man/woman interested blocking out the other parent’s input.

 

But, what happens if there is an emergency and the other parent can’t be reached? Thankfully, the law allows the parent who has physical custody of the children at the time to make whatever decisions are needed in the event of a life-threatening emergency, even if the other parent can’t be contacted or in the event the parents disagree on the action to be taken.

 

While we are on the subject of travel and children, a recent article in St. Louis Lawyer, authored by three executives from the Daniel & Henry insurance brokerage, suggested checking with your health insurance carrier before traveling overseas to confirm that the coverage would apply for you and the children in the countries that you plan to visit. According to the article, some policies explicitly exclude foreign coverage.

 

In addition, some foreign governments, such as the People’s Republic of China, require full payment in advance for treatment in their state medical facilities and will hold your passport to secure payment. The US State Department website (www.state.gov/travel) is a good place to check about the medical insurance and payment systems in foreign countries.

 

Finally, if you are divorced and plan to travel out of the country with your children, be aware that some countries require that you produce a written consent from their other parent that you have their permission to travel with the children before you and the kids will be allowed to enter the country. I learned this a few years back when researching the requirements for taking my son to Cancun, Mexico. The State Department provided the “heads-up” on that one too.