The Challenges Co-Parents Face When Planning Family Vacations
As the school year winds down, many families are looking forward to summer break. From camping trips to visiting family to going to theme parks, your options are endless. However, if you share custody of your children with a co-parent, planning your summer vacation may be a little more complicated than the average family. Not only do you have to work around your work schedule and your children's extracurricular schedule, but you also must work with your co-parent's schedule. Furthermore, if you and your co-parent are on difficult terms, planning can take on a whole new level of difficulty.
Below we provide four helpful tips on planning a summer vacation when you share custody. Keep reading to learn more.
Tip #1: Pay Attention to Your Custody Agreement & Parenting Plan
Just because your kids are out of school doesn't mean that your custody and visitation schedule stops. It is important that you review your custody arrangement and parenting plan when planning a summer vacation. In some families, visitation schedules stay the same, regardless of the children's school schedule. Meanwhile, other families include provisions for adjusting the schedule during the summer. You must make sure that you understand how your custody order impacts your summer planning. By reviewing these important documents, you can avoid conflict with your co-parent and ensure that planning goes smoothly.
If you plan to take your children out of the state or out of the country on vacation, your custody agreement and parenting plan are even more important. The other parent's consent is often required before you can take your children out of the area. Before buying plane tickets or booking hotels, you should review your custody agreement and parenting plan.
Tip #2: Start Planning Early
No matter what your plans are, it is a good idea to start planning early. The sooner you know where you want to go and when the sooner you can begin working with your co-parent to finalize your schedule. Additionally, the sooner you start planning, the more time you and your co-parent have to make any necessary adjustments to your visitation schedule if necessary. For example, if you have 50/50 custody, and your vacation will require your co-parent to give up time to accommodate the trip, you will have plenty of time to coordinate make-up time before or after you return.
Early planning can also help secure reservations for your vacation and help you avoid booking a trip at the same time as your co-parent. The last thing you want to do is agree to a vacation schedule and then have to change it because plane tickets or hotel reservations aren't available.
Tip #3: Keep Communication Open with Your Co-Parent
As you plan your summer vacation with your kids, you should keep your co-parent in the loop. Even after you have worked out your schedule with them and they have agreed to the trip, you want to make sure they know what is going on with the vacation. Just as you would like to be kept in the loop when they take the kids somewhere, you want to keep them involved.
Things to keep your co-parent apprised of when planning a summer vacation:
- Where you are going
- The dates you will be gone
- Where you will be staying and with whom
- How they can reach the children while they are gone
- What your emergency contact information is during the trip
- How you will handle any medical or other emergencies while you are gone
- What you will be doing while you are on vacation
- Whether the vacation will impact the current visitation schedule
How much to involve your co-parent in the planning process will depend on both your relationship with them and the requirements of your custody order or parenting plan. For example, some co-parents arrange a specific time for the children to call their other parent each day while they are gone. Alternatively, the other parent may only want or need the basic information of where you'll be and how to get in touch in case of an emergency. Work to find a balance that works well for your family and which makes everyone feel comfortable.
Tip #4: Prepare to Compromise & Be Flexible
When it comes to coordinating your family's summer vacation with your co-parent, be prepared to compromise and do your best to remain flexible. If possible, brainstorm some alternative dates for your trip in case your first choice doesn't work out. If your co-parent is nervous about the kids being away for an extended period, find ways for them to stay in touch with the kids during the trip.
Turn to Your Lawyer when Necessary
If your co-parent is not abiding by the provisions outlined in your custody agreement or parenting plan, you may need to speak with your attorney. Though this is frustrating, it may be the best course of action. For example, if your custody agreement has a specific visitation schedule for the summer break and your co-parent refuses to follow it, you may be able to seek enforcement of the custody order with the courts. Furthermore, if you and your co-parent cannot agree about how summer breaks should be spent, your lawyer may be able to help you resolve the dispute through mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods.
For help resolving a custody dispute, reach out to Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. Our attorneys are prepared to discuss your case today.