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Help! Can stepparents take stepchildren on vacation out of state without biological parent?

Jen15's picture

We take a yearly family trip to Florida to visit my parents (me, hubby, BC, SD's), but my husband just started a new job and, unfortunately, will not be able to go this summer. The children are so excited and look forward to our two week vaca every year, but I'm pretty sure that my SD's BM is not going to give permission for me to take them anyway. We tried a few years ago when we were in a similar situation and she said absolutely not if their dad was not going, but my husband ended up being able to wrap up his project early and get the time off, so the problem solved itself. During the school year we have primary physical custody and other than her 6 visitation days/month, she is pretty much absentee. Although I respect the fact that she is their mother and understand her concerns, I just really feel that she only does it out of spite since she and her husband cannot take vacation and if my husband goes, she can't say no. Their CO's are he just has to give her notice of the trip and the travel plans, which we give her 3 months in advance. BM has said in the past that the children do not need to leave the state without a parent in case something happens, but she is more than willing to let my 8 year old SD leave the State for the weekend to go to one of the large theme parks with her Girl Scout troop with only the troop leaders as chaperones (who all happen to be my friends). Isn't it the same thing, except that I'm actually family?? Either way, if something happened, it would be another adult with a temp power of attorney to make decisions, not the BP.

My question for you all is has anyone had luck petitioning the courts for permission to take their SC on vacation without the BP? If she says no, I'm willing to try, but I don't want it to make us look bad. I'm just getting so sad at the thought of telling the girls they can't go. They are three years older now (8, 7 & 6) and I think it's unfair that they have to miss out, especially since they look forward to going just as much as my kids. I would stay and just take a "staycation" but then it's not fair to my kids, who want to see their grandparents, who they only get to see twice a year. :?

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

I flown all over the world with my stepkids and no one ever batted an eye. Unless the court order excludes you from doing it, I don't see how she can stop you. It is dad's time, and dad says it is ok.

You gave her proper notice of the vacation per the court order. She is the one with the problem so why would you petition a court?

Orange County Ca's picture

As San said above if Dad has temporary custody as in court ordered visitation or voluntarally given by BM then on those dates in theory he could send them to Africa with a VooDoo Doctor.

The most the court could do is restrict future trips if the BM complained after the fact. I'd just do it - as you've said carry complete Power of Attorney to make all decisions and shut up about it.

I.e. don't tell steps or BM that Daddy isn't taking the initial trip until they're safely with you and away from BM. (Borrow their cell phone(s) if they have any so they can't accidently spill the beans.

SanAntonioSoccerMom's picture

It seems to me Dad is the custodial parent. I don't see how she can stop kids from going to Florida on vacation. It is no different than the grandparents/aunts/cousins/extended family taking the kids on vacation.

I don't think she has legal leg to stand on.

Smomof3's picture

In our state both parents have to agree on the child leaving the state, no matter who it's with...even the other parent.

stepmisery's picture

If your CO states those conditions, that is simply notifying the other parent and it does not say the other parent has to give permission. I think the voodoo doctor thing is probably right lol, and you wouldn't need to petition the court. It's going to be up to BM to petition the court to change it, that's gonna be after the fact and if a trip has already successfully occurred, the judge is probably gonna toss her out on her ear.

I'm sure you are well aware that judges have to bear in mind not only the facts of the case of the before them, but precedent. Now they are not legally bound to do so, and they probably shouldn't, but they are going to be thinking about all those parents who are going to misuse this sort of privilege to legally take the child away from the other parent.

She'll have to take you to court, and you and DH do have the current CO which you followed to the letter. I can't see that you or DH would get in any trouble, but a judge might rule to change the CO just because allowing other people to take the child out of state without permission of both parents can open some dicey doors.

Rags's picture

Absolutely you can take YOUR Skids on trips without a BP. My SS and I have taken several trips together both domestically and internationally without my wife and without even a word to BioDad. If your DH can't come on the Fla trip it is no big deal. It is his time with the kids and he can do with them as he pleases including allowing you to take them with you to Fla without him. Regardless of whether he is the CP or NCP. The other parent has nothing to say about it and no influence if it is DH's time.

We learned this early in our blended family career. We took exception to the SpermIdiot rarely seeing my SS during SpermLand visitation. DickHead would pawn the kid off on SpermGrandMa, the SpermGreatGrandParents or whoever else he wanted.

We filed to have visitation stopped if DickHead was not spending the visitation time with the kid. The judge ruled that DickHead could pawn the kid off on whoever he wanted during his visitation time. At that point I took that ruling as my own get out of jail free card to do what I want when I wanted with my Skid and DickHead and SpermGroundMa could kiss my ass if they had anything to say about it. I am married to the CP and her time is my time and the NCP clan can't say a damned thing about it. If that ruling applies to us re: the SpermIdiots visitation time then the same applies to the SpermClan during our time with the kid which is all but 7wks a year.

If you are in a state that requires both parents to agree to out of state travel, go anyway. By the time the other parent can bitch you will be back and it will be a moot point.

My philosophy on Sparenting has always been that I am an equity parent to my wife (the CP) and for damned sure I am in a superior parenting position to my SS's SpermIdiot (the NCP) and I have always taken the perspective that I will do what I want when I want until someone in authority tells me otherwise. The only person who I consider as being in a position of authority is my wife and she and I are a team so I pretty much have no opposition in doing what I want when I want as a parent to SS including taking him or sending him where ever and with whomever I choose. If a judge ever had an issue then I would just keep my attorney busy with all kinds of filings, delays, reschedules, etc... until the event was far enough in the past to not be actionable.

But, fortunately most family law judges seem to come from the bottom 10%ers of the legal profession and are only marginally more intelligent than my Skid's SpermIdiot and have not been much a problem to deal with.

Go to Fla and have fun.

All IMHO of course.