Posted By Akilah Harris
Summer vacation is a time to relax, not to renew old fights with your ex over custody of your kids. You may want to take your children to the Bahamas, while he or she may only get the kids during the summer.
It's important to sort out these not-so-little details before making your summer vacation plans. With that in mind, here are a few tips to make child custody one less thing to worry about during school vacations.
1. Set Up a Vacation Schedule, And Stick to It.
With the kids off from school, there's plenty of time to plan a big Disneyland vacation, or even a cross-country road trip. However, if you don't sit down and discuss you plans with your ex, you may be back in court for visitation/custody interference.
A better way to spend your summer is to create a vacation schedule (perhaps with the help of an experienced child custody lawyer), have your ex sign off on it, and submit it to a family court judge. That way, everyone is clear on where the kids will be this summer, and it's in writing with the court.
2. Make Sure You Aren't Violating Your Custody Agreement.
Some custody or visitation agreements have geographical limits (e.g., your kids can't leave the state or country). If you're planning a summer vacation abroad, you may need need to get such an agreement modified. If you've already formed a vacation plan, it shouldn't be hard to have your ex stipulate to a custody modification that allows for travel.
3. Give Adequate Notice.
Well-laid plans are great, but don't spring them on your ex at the last minute. Give him or her at least a couple months (if possible) to be aware of you and your children's travel plans.
4. Let Kids Communicate With the Other Parent While on Vacation.
Summer vacation doesn't mean a communication embargo on your children's other parent. Skype may be a great way to allow your ex "virtual visitation," even while you're in a hotel room thousands of miles away.
Keep the legal peace with your ex and enjoy a great summer vacation with your kids.
Parenting Plans In Florida
Child Custody & Dividing Time with Children
In Florida, the court mandates that the divorced parents draw up what’s called a Parenting Plan. Divorced parents need to create and agree on a plan that equally divides the typical week and the year’s school vacations between them. In the event the parents cannot cooperate to create this plan, the court takes over and mandates one. Obviously, except in the case of irreconcilable differences of opinion, it’s in the parents’ and children’s best interests that the ex-spouses create the plan together.
One of the largest hurdles in developing a plan is working with divorced parents that live far from each other. Traveling long distances can be financially taxing on the parents and emotionally difficult for children. Because of this burden, sometimes the parent who continues living in the family home or nearby becomes the majority time-sharing parent.
Divorced parents who live near each other are expected to come up with an equal plan. A plan is more than a detailed account of time, but also of parental duties. Responsibilities such as pediatricians and healthcare, school and extracurricular activities, and family vacations are all to be considered.
Negotiating Custody Agreements Can Help
Because parents are responsible for drawing up their plan, they enjoy some flexibility to consider their own needs and wants and those of their children. For example, divorced parents who enjoy uninterrupted vacations more can switch off between vacations or even switch off years. For example, if one parent had the children during Spring Break in 2017, in 2018 the other parent would have the kids for that period of time.
Other parents may want to see their children more frequently, even if it means individual visits are shorter. They might evenly divide Winter Break into two parts, one parent taking the kids the first half and the other parent taking them the second half.
Child custody can be a challenging situation, but the focus is always on what’s best for the children. Your parenting plan should clearly define what will happen for each school vacation, and your attorney should help you negotiate terms that fit your unique situation. Akilah Harris PPLC has experience in handling even the most complicated custody cases, and we would be happy to help you create a parenting plan that both you, your parenting partner, and the court can agree with.