Before Your Child Takes That Trip This Summer . . .

School is out and summer is here!  It is that time of year when many of us will be traveling.  When I was a kid, both of my parents were educators with the Monterey Peninsula School District and we therefore were able to spend our summers traveling together.  However, not all families are fortunate enough to have the same amount of vacation time.  Often, parents will travel out of town and leave their minor children in the care of a trusted family member or friend.  Other times, minor children travel with other family members or friends while the parents stay home.  In each situation, it’s important to make sure that specific legal issues are addressed.

If you plan to travel and leave your minor child with another, what will happen if your child has a medical emergency?  It is important to execute a Power of Attorney that specifically gives your child’s custodian the right to make health care decisions for the child, including the ability to decide whether to elect or withhold surgery and medication.  Furthermore, state and federal medical privacy laws (commonly known as HIPAA) put severe restrictions on access to another’s health information.  It is important that you specifically authorize your child’s custodian the right to receive all health information relating to your child. 

If your minor child is planning on traveling with somebody else, make sure you have signed an authorization giving the adult with whom your child is traveling permission to take your child out of town, out of state, or out of the country (depending on the travel destination) and to change the child’s traveling plans in case of weather or other variables.  In light of the recent custody struggles of David Goldman, whose son was taken to Brazil by his mother without his permission, it is especially important that such documentation is in order if your minor child will be traveling through an airport as authorities may be extra sensitive to children traveling with non-parents.