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How to Navigate Seasonal Travel Plans With Joint Custody Agreements

How to Navigate Seasonal Travel Plans With Joint Custody Agreements

October 11, 2023

By Johnson/Turner Legal

How to Navigate Seasonal Travel Plans With Joint Custody Agreements

October 11, 2023

By Johnson/Turner Legal

Almost everyone travels seasonally. Some people visit their parents during the winter holidays, and others go on long vacations in the summer. Regardless, seasonal travel plans usually involve the entire family.

That changes, unfortunately, after a divorce. If both you and your ex want to travel with your kids over spring break, for example, only one of you can get your wish. A good joint custody agreement considers future seasonal travel plans and potential changes over the years.

Seasonal Travel Exceptions

Seasonal travel arrangements are generally going to create exceptions in your scheduling. You should look ahead to these exceptions and think about how they affect your custody arrangement. Your child custody lawyer will need that input to create a fair custody agreement.

Holiday Travel

Typically, joint custody agreements are created with rather rigid schedules. For example, you may have custody of your kids every other week. Unfortunately, seasonal holidays rarely respect this type of structure.

Christmas may fall on December 25 every year, but the exact day of the week is always changing. Conversely, Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of November, meaning the exact day can change by up to six days each year.

In general, it is a lot easier to trade off holidays. In other words, maybe each parent gets Christmas every other year, or one always gets Thanksgiving and the other always Christmas. This arrangement may work out to one parent’s benefit one year and the other parent’s benefit the next. Over a lifetime, however, it will likely all even out.

Seasonal Travel

For most people, seasonal travel refers to the summer months when kids are off from school and have unlimited spare time. That said, depending on your job or other factors, it could apply to other parts of the year as well.

Regardless, the main problem with this type of travel is that it usually lasts long enough to overlap with your spouse’s scheduled time. If you can predict seasonal travel in advance, you should be able to surrender comparable time to make up for this.

Adaptability Is Important

A good rule of thumb about any child custody agreement is that it can stop being valuable at a moment’s notice. Kids have lives and opinions, too. They may prefer to spend a month at summer camp than two weeks in Hawaii with you. However, that preference can interfere with your agreement.

Similarly, your life situation may change. For example, if your parents move to another state, it may no longer be feasible to have Thanksgiving with them and your kids.

Your agreement should assume that changes will be needed in the future and allow for easy ways to make those amendments. This will save you lots of money on child custody lawyer costs.

Negotiate Fairly With Your Ex-Spouse

If you want to take a seasonal trip that wasn’t previously agreed to, contact your ex right away. Let them know what you plan and make a fair offer in return. Typically, your offer should be pretty open-ended, allowing them to choose the time best for them in return. You may also be able to buy that time.

Even if they are amenable to making changes, you should never rely on a verbal agreement. Get a child custody lawyer to oversee the agreement and create a simple one-time contract for the change. This will prevent both you and your spouse from going back on the plan, making it a fair solution for everyone involved.

Petition the Court if All Else Fails

If your ex is unwilling to negotiate, you may need to petition the court for a modification of the parenting agreement. This should be a last-case scenario because it is an expensive process.

Typically, the court will act in the best interests of the children involved. So if your children want to join you for two weeks in California, the court is much more likely to allow it than if they aren’t interested.

Book a Quick Guidance Call With Johnson/Turner Legal

There is so much to think about when you are about to get divorced. Even if you and your spouse already agree to joint custody, you might not have considered factors like seasonal travel or how it will complicate an otherwise orderly child custody agreement.

The child custody lawyers at Johnson/Turner Legal have experience with these types of complications and can help you plan for your seasonal plans. Contact our law firm today to book a Quick Guidance Call.


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