Generally speaking, you can take your children to the San Diego Zoo and other area attractions on days you have custody unless the parenting plan or a court order restricts where you can go. If you want to travel outside of California or spend a vacation on the other side of the state, you might need permission from your child’s other parent. It depends on the terms of your custody and visitation order. 

How Do Courts Decide Child Custody in California?

California courts encourage parents to negotiate a parenting plan that provides ample time with each parent and fosters a close relationship between the parents and the children. If parents cannot agree on child custody terms, a family court judge decides custody and visitation based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Pursuant to California child custody laws, judges grant legal and physical custody to one or both parents. A parent with legal custody has the right to make important decisions for their children, including decisions regarding religious upbringing, healthcare, extracurricular activities, and education.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives. The parent with primary physical custody is called the custodial parent. The child may have one or more overnight visits with the non-custodial parent during the week. There may be other visitation schedules as well. 

Courts may also order joint physical custody, giving both parents the right to have the child live with them. However, children often remain in one home most of the time to provide stability and continuity. Splitting physical custody 50/50 can create confusion and stress for a child.

How Do Parenting Plans Work in San Diego, CA?

A parenting plan outlines how parents intend to divide parenting responsibilities after a divorce or separation. The parenting plan covers custody, visitation, education, medical care, and religious upbringing. 

Parents can work together to negotiate a parenting plan through mediation. This method is usually preferable to having a judge decide for you. You know your children better than anyone, so you know what works best for your family.

A parenting plan may include one or more provisions regarding visitation and permissions. For example, parents may agree to notify each other if they take the child more than 50 miles away from their primary residence. Therefore, if your child lives 60 miles from the San Diego Zoo, you would need to notify your ex before taking your child to the zoo, even on your visitation days.

Parenting plans often contain provisions regarding travel outside of the state or country. Typically, parents agree to obtain permission from each other before leaving the state with their children. 

Even if you negotiate a parenting plan with your ex-partner, the judge may change the terms if they are not in the child’s best interest. The parenting plan can be modified as circumstances change to ensure the plan remains in the child’s best interest. 

What Are My Rights To Travel With My Children if the Court Is Not Involved?

If the courts are not involved in custody matters, the California Family Code states that the parents have equal custody of the child. Therefore, a parent cannot take the child outside the state without the other parent’s consent unless it is an emergency. 

Obtaining Permission To Travel With Your Children Outside of California 

If your child’s other parent refuses to consent to your travel plans with your child, consult your custody order. The custody order might address the matter by specifying where and when you can travel with your child and the necessary permissions before traveling. If not, you may need to petition the court for approval to travel with your child.

When you argue your case in court, you must prove that the travel is in the best interest of the child. You must also address concerns your child’s other parent raises regarding the trip. 

Note that traveling to another state differs from traveling outside the country. Because you are leaving the jurisdiction of the United States, obtaining approval to travel to another country can be more challenging, especially over the objection of the child’s other parent. Consult an experienced San Diego child custody attorney as soon as possible if you anticipate traveling out of the country with your children. An attorney can help you negotiate with your ex-partner about travel plans and file a petition with the court, if necessary.

Contact Our Family Law Firm in San Diego, CA

A San Diego child custody attorney is the best source of information about custody matters. Call a lawyer if you have questions or need help with a custody case. Contact our San Diego office at (619) 866-3756 to schedule a free consultation.

San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108