Obstacles in the organization of vacations for separated parents

The vacation season has begun and the summer vacations are just around the corner.

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Das Bild zeigt eine Personengruppe
Photo: Law firm Meyer-Götz | Oertel & Kollegen

While the preparations for the annual vacation are in full swing, some people discover that the ID card or passport they need for their well-deserved time off has expired.

While the application for a new ID card is quite simple for the adult, parents who live apart from each other often come up against their limits with regard to their joint children - this may also be the case when planning the vacation itself.

If the parents have joint custody of their child, the other parent should under certain circumstances already be involved in planning the vacation. If the trip is to a different culture or involves many hours of flying, e.g. China or the USA, the parent who wants to travel with the child needs the consent of the other parent. This is even more the case if the trip is to take place in a region for which a travel warning has been issued by the German Foreign Office. Otherwise, it is sufficient to inform the other parent with custody.

If the child does not yet have a passport or if the passport is no longer valid, a declaration by the other parent with custody must be submitted when applying for a passport stating that the parent is authorized to apply for and receive a passport for the child. This means that in the case of joint parental custody, even if the parents live separately, the parent with whom the child does not predominantly reside must agree to the application for the passport.

If there is an identity card or passport for the joint child, it must be handed over to the other parent by the parent who has it in his or her possession for his or her leave. If necessary, this obligation can be enforced by legal proceedings, as recently decided by the Federal Court of Justice. In the event that this is not done and the trip cannot be taken as a result, there may even be an obligation to pay damages on the part of the parent who thereby prevents the other parent from traveling with the joint child.

It should also be noted that the parent traveling with the child must carry a written declaration from the other parent with custody that the booked trip meets with his or her approval. Forms in several languages for this purpose can be found on the websites of the well-known automobile clubs, among others. This way, in case of doubt, the consent of the other parent can be proven with legal certainty at the start of the trip and the trip does not come to an early end on the day of departure at the airport.

Parents with joint custody must also agree on any vaccinations required for the child for the trip. Particularly when traveling to more distant countries, special vaccinations are recommended that require the consent of the other parent, as they do not correspond to the minimum vaccination protection recommended by the STIKO that applies here in Germany. Such vaccinations, which are rather uncommon here, e.g. against thyphoid fever, require the mandatory consent of the other parent with custody. You can find out which vaccinations are actually recommended in your vacation country on the website of the German Tropical Institute.

In case of uncertainty or questions regarding the planned journey with your child, do not hesitate to seek professional help. We will advise and represent you in cases of disagreement with regard to the exercise of joint parental care.

With this in mind, we wish you a relaxing vacation.

Katrin Pursian-Woorth, attorney at law (specialist in family law)

Law firm Meyer-Götz, Oertel & Kollegen

Königstraße 5 a

01097 Dresden


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