Child Support and Travel Expenses

In most cases, when a couple divorces they stay within 100 miles of their children.

But as time goes on, a new job, a new marriage, or any number of situations can cause the parent to move to another city or state. This makes it impossible for the non-custodial parent to have a part in their child’s daily life.

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The courts recognize this problem and take steps to ensure that the child will have the best relationship possible given the geographical challenges. This means the court will have to spell out in exact detail who will deliver the child, how they will travel, who will receive the child, and when the visitation will take place. This can be a very sensitive and expensive issue.

Can a child travel alone?

The details of how a child will travel are usually spelled out in the divorce papers. Even a child as young as 5 years old can travel via commercial airline without any parents. The stipulations usually instruct the custodial parent to hand the child over to the flight attendant. It stipulates what kind of travel you must use and instructs the ex-spouse when and how to pick the child up at the airport. Other details such as when the child travels and the requirement of passports and insurance are also listed in the papers.

There are no laws concerning the traveling of a child under the age of 3 to visit a noncustodial parent. This is completely at the judge’s discretion. He or she will take a lot of factors into consideration.

A judge will consider (among other things):

  • If the mother is breastfeeding.
  • The health of the child and the need to stay near their medical team while they are being treated for infant/birth problems.
  • The relationship that the noncustodial parent had with the child when they were together.
  • The background of the noncustodial parent as being a drug addict or alcoholic.
  • The housing situation of both parents.

The courts say the child can travel. So who pays for the trip?

The short answer is the noncustodial parent normally pays for the trip of the child to visit. But, this is not written in stone. A parent can file a petition with the court requesting a reevaluation. If the parent can show that the decision was unfair or puts the parent in an impossible situation.

If one parent is more financially able to fly their child across the country, they can pay for travel. If it falls back on the standard court order, the noncustodial parent will purchase round trip tickets and provide all the details of the flight to the custodial parent.

If travel is a new situation for you, consult a child support attorney. It is wise to have the details worked out in detail for the protection of your child and for your peace of mind. This addresses out of state and out of the country travel, expenses while the child is with the noncustodial parent, and the visitation calendar which will need to be adjusted with the move. For more information, talk to our child support attorneys today.