When you’re married, you probably know where your spouse is almost all the time. At least you have some general idea: work, church, with friends, bowling, wherever.
By contrast, when you get divorced, you don’t know where your ex is, and that’s a healthy thing. You don’t get to micromanage each other in divorce (although, believe me, I’ve seen people try).
So, as a general proposition, this not knowing is healthy and normal. There are times, though, where not knowing causes anxiety.
Vacations/Out of Town Travel with the Kids
The most common of these times is when the kids are going out of town with your ex, either on vacation or for some other kind of trip.
Maybe it’s a general fear of travel, or the fact we don’t trust new environments, or we don’t trust our ex, or the simple fact that changing routines freaks us out as humans, but we tend to worry about what will happen when our kids travel.
Because of these worries (whether real or imagined), we want to know where our kids are and how to get ahold of them during vacations or trips out of town.
On the other side of the coin, you can imagine things from the side of the ex taking the kids on a trip. He or she doesn’t want to be micromanaged, and nothing bad’s going to happen anyway, so why should he or she share travel plans?
As you can imagine, these two different ways of thinking about the same situation can create conflict.
Recognizing this, the Utah Legislature wrote a law dealing with this situation: Utah Code, Section 30-3-36 (2). The law reads:
For emergency purposes, whenever the child travels with either parent, all of the following will be provided to the other parent:
(a) an itinerary of travel dates;
(c) places where the child or traveling parent can be reached; and
(d) the name and telephone number of an available third person who would be knowledgeable of the child’s location.
So, the Legislature sided with sharing information about the trip. Essentially, the traveling parent needs to provide (1) an itinerary, and (2) contact information.
What Does “Travels” Mean?
Unfortunately, 30-3-36 is a little vague (as many laws are) about somethings.
Most glaringly, it doesn’t define what it means when it wrote “travels.”
Does travel include in-state travel, or does it only refer to out-of-state vacations? Do you have to disclose travel out of the general area where the kids live (e.g., Salt Lake Valley)? Does it apply to short trips or only to vacations?
Honestly, no one’s quite sure how to answer these questions.
Here are some rough general principles I’ve picked up over the years from judges:
- If you travel out of town for an extended vacation, you have to provide an itinerary.
Going to St George for two weeks during the summer? Provide an itinerary. Evanston for a week to do some fishing? Provide an itinerary. Disneyland? Yeah, that’s a given.
- If you travel out of state, even for a short period, you have to provide an itinerary.
I think every time out-of-state travel for more than a day has come up, judges will require an itinerary.
- If you stay close to home for your two-week summer vacation, you don’t need to provide an itinerary.
If you want to stay at home and do random stuff for your two weeks of vacation with your kids, you don’t need to share the particulars with your ex. Feel free to do whatever.
How Specific Does the Shared Information Need To Be?
Every so often, there’s a parent that wants a complete play-by-play of the vacation: e.g., where the kids will be on specific days, numbers for every person the kids will be with, etc.
Unless there’s some sort of serious, specific safety concern, you don’t need to provide really detailed information. A general outline of the travel plans, and a contact number to the hotel or where you’re staying, is fine. Honestly, now that everyone has a cell and email, the need for a detailed itinerary isn’t that great.