Sometimes after the finalization of a divorce, a parent may choose to relocate to another city for a new job, to start anew, etc. That parent may have visitation rights to the child(ren), and this most likely means the child would have to travel between the two locations during summer breaks or the holiday season.
Obviously, the safest and most preferred way of travel for the child between parents is to have an adult accompany him/her. However, this is not the most convenient or cost effective way. More often than not, the child will have to travel on his/her own. Here are some tips for parents in preparation for the summer months and the start of the school year, when a lot of the traveling occurs:
–Prepare your child: walk your child through the entire flight process, even if you will be with him during part of it. This way, the child will be prepared if something does not go according to plan. Make sure that he has cash, a cell phone programmed with emergency phone numbers and even a written card with your information and his flight information (this can be tucked into his pocket, or even hung around his neck with a lanyard).
–Documentation: dropping your child off for a flight as an unaccompanied minor is significantly different than giving your friend a ride to the airport. You will have to walk him through check-in and security. Some airports will allow you to even walk with him to the gate and wait for the flight there. You will have to have documentation present, including your ID, his flight information and anything else that the airlines have requested.
–Food & Entertainment: if the flight is short, your child will likely not get a meal. Flight attendants may be busy with other passengers or other unaccompanied minors to tend to your child’s needs all the time, so make sure that he has enough food to last the duration of the trip. Check with your local airport to see what items are restricted, such as containers of liquid over a certain size. You’ll be surprised to discover what is actually considered to be a liquid! Be sure to pack enough entertainment through the entire flight. This can include coloring books, games, dolls, and even a portable DVD player. Just be sure that the entertainment will not be a distraction to other passengers.
–Costs: make sure that you are aware of all of the costs involved when you are booking the ticket. Some airlines may charge an additional fee for an unaccompanied minor for each way of the trip, and sometimes each leg of the trip. Even though it may be cost effective to schedule layovers in a cross country trip, it might be wiser to shell out the extra money so that your child won’t have to try to figure out how to get to his connecting flight.
Having your child travel across such great distances is tough, but the time that your child will spend with the other parent will more than make up for any stresses caused by the trip.
The attorneys at Bay Area law firm Howard & Fei, LLP can help you with your child custody and visitation plans, so call us at 510.464.8083 for a consultation today!