All year long, school aged children look forward to summer vacation. It is a time when children can relax and enjoy time with their friends and family without worrying about projects, deadlines, or homework. After a divorce or separation, children will still be just as eager to have a couple of months off of school, but for parents, the vacation time can be a bit more complicated. There are some ways that parents can plan ahead to try to reduce the stress associated with summer vacation after a divorce or separation.
First, if you have already gone to court and have a court-ordered custody and parenting plan, you should sit down and read through the provisions pertaining to the summer months very carefully. Many parenting time schedules have different schedules for the summer, such as allowing each parent an uninterrupted block of time to allow for vacations with each respective family. These vacation provisions may have a specific set of dates already scheduled.
Alternatively, the parenting schedule may require each parent to provide written notice of when they intend to exercise their special vacation parenting time. Whatever your order may say, it is important to read the order and make sure you understand it. If you do not understand or have any questions about how your summer vacation time is going to work, you should contact your attorney as soon as possible. It is far easier for your attorney to help smooth out misunderstandings months in advance than it is right before you and your child are about to leave on vacation.
Second, if you are planning on travelling during your summer vacation with your child, you need to understand the requirements and restrictions on where you can take your child. If you have joint legal custody of your child, you do not need the other spouse’s permission to take the child on a brief vacation out of state, unless your order specifically states that you do. However, for international travel, if your child is under sixteen, you will need the other parent’s cooperation to obtain a passport. If the other parent does not agree to help, you may have to return to court.
Finally, as your child gets older, you should be sensitive to your child’s activities. Older children may have jobs or particular sports or other activities during the summer that are very important to them. Making the unilateral decision to take the child on vacation for two weeks could create unnecessary friction in your relationship. Discussing your child’s preferences with him or her before making serious steps to plan a vacation is advisable.