All year long, school aged children look forward to breaks from school. Summer vacation, spring break, fall break, and winter break allow children time to decompress and parents the opportunity to take the children to visit relatives or new places. After a divorce or custody action, spring break and vacation can provide particular challenges as parents often need to coordinate vacation planning, despite the fact they no longer vacation together. Planning ahead in conjunction with the other parent can save a lot of headache and argument right before the vacation begins.
Long before spring break starts, make sure you carefully read your parenting order. Most will contain specific provisions about how the parents are to handle custody and visitation during spring break, just as the order will make those same provisions for other vacations. It may be worth your time to send an email to your co-parent to discuss the provision to make sure you both have the same understanding on how it will be interpreted. Having a mutual understanding of when the child is to be exchanged will often prevent you from having to make an emergency call to your lawyer right when spring break starts in order to try to straighten out any disagreements.
You will also want to carefully review the provisions, if any, in your order regarding taking the child out of state. In general, if the parents have joint legal custody, a parent is permitted to take the child out of state for vacation. The parents do not need the other’s permission to leave the state with the child for a short vacation that will happen totally within the bounds of that parent’s visitation time. That is not to say that parents should avoid freely sharing information about their plans and how to contact them during their vacation time. It benefits both parents and the children to have free communication about plans and locations.
As the vacation approaches, the parents should also make sure to coordinate efforts with regard to school work and extra-curricular activities. Especially as children get older, it is not uncommon for them to have homework, projects, or practices scheduled during the break. It is important for you and the other parent to communicate clearly about what type of school work needs to be completed during the break so that one parent is left scrambling to finish a big project with the child the night before school resumes.
Co-parenting can be delicate following a divorce or separation, especially when it comes to vacations and coordinating. Contact us today at 619-800-0384 to discuss your custody issues and what we can do to help.